By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Time has run out for the parking kiosks in Sea Isle City.
For vacationers, few things may be more annoying than having to interrupt a perfectly relaxing summer beach day to run back to plug the kiosks with more money to avoid getting a parking ticket.
But the hassle of fumbling for enough cash or loose coins to pay for extra time for parking spaces is coming to an end.
Sea Isle is getting rid of the parking kiosks this summer after introducing a cashless system in 2021 that allows motorists to pay using an app or over the phone.
“The kiosks are not coming back this year. It’s all going to be online. Basically, it’s cashless,” said Capt. Anthony Garreffi, the officer in charge of the Sea Isle Police Department.
From the very beginning, Sea Isle has been touting the convenience of the new ParkMobile app for motorists, especially if they want to avoid those frantic dashes from the beach to add more money to the meters or kiosks.
The app sends alerts to people when their parking is about to expire, so a user can simply extend the time right from their mobile devices.
“People don’t have to keep coming back to the kiosk, because they can pay from the beach or while sitting at a restaurant having dinner,” Garreffi said.
There is another option for people who may not feel comfortable using the app. They may call a toll-free number listed on the ParkMobile signs to speak to the company’s customer service center and use their credit card to pay for parking over the phone.
“Most people nowadays have smartphones, but if they don’t, they can call and talk to an operator,” Garreffi noted.
The app can be downloaded on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, or by visiting the ParkMobile website at https://parkmobile.io. The app is available for both iPhone and Android devices.
In Sea Isle, parking fees are in effect each year from May 15 to Labor Day, coinciding with the busy summer tourism season.
The ParkMobile app was immediately popular after it was introduced in 2021, handling about 80 percent to 85 percent of the parking transactions in Sea Isle compared to just 15 percent to 20 percent for the kiosks and meters, the police department reported last year.
Last summer, Sea Isle kept the kiosks and meters around for people who wanted to continue to pay the traditional way. But the kiosks will be gone this summer and the only parking meters that will be working will be those at 29th Street and Central Avenue, Garreffi said.
“Eventually, that will change as well,” he said of the parking meters also be taken out of service at some point in favor of the cashless payment system.
From a financial standpoint, Sea Isle will benefit from having just the app parking available because the city will not have to pay the cost of maintaining the electronic kiosks each year. The shore’s salt air takes a toll on the machinery, Garreffi noted.
The city plans to post information on the seaislecitynj.us website to make people aware of the transition to cashless parking. Garreffi said there will also be larger signs placed around town to explain how the app will work and how to set up an account. Motorists will also be able to simply scan the ParkMobile QR code for parking transactions.
The beginning of the end for Sea Isle’s parking kiosks came last year when the city disposed of 30 of the aging machines using an online auction platform for surplus government property.
Garreffi said the city’s remaining 13 kiosks will be history, too.
An extra benefit of the app is that motorists will no longer have to worry about touching the meters or the kiosk keypads to pay for parking during the COVID-19 pandemic. The only thing they’ll touch is their own phone or mobile device.