Parking kiosks causing confusion for some customers in BG

Parking kiosks causing confusion for some customers in BG

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - What was meant to be a city convenience is more of a headache for some.

Downtown Bowling Green businesses have concerns about the parking changes. The city introduced parking kiosks in September, but they are continuing to stump some downtown customers and impacting downtown businesses.

At most parking lots in Downtown BG you can pay using a traditional coin meter, but in one lot, lot 2 located behind Main Street, you can use an electric parking kiosk. Some business owners along Main Street say the new parking method is impacting their foot traffic.

"That's one of the comments we're hearing is that it's no longer easy to just pop in real quick for a watch battery change or something to d rop off because it takes longer to go to the kiosk and wait in line then to just pop in real quick," explained Ben Waddington, owner of Waddington Jewelers.

He has started a contest to get feedback on the kiosks in exchange for a chance to win a gift card. He has more than 30 responses and only two positive.

"I think the biggest thing we want to do is just get people educated, get them down here get them to try it," said Waddington. "I'll gladly walk out and walk you through it myself and just show you how easy it is."

Other business owners agree the kiosks are a problem for customers.

"The customers are confused," explained Ginny Stewart, owner of Ginny's Inspired Fashions.

"They are not happy about having to give their license plate number and so as a result they are either not using the parking lot or they are parking across the street in other business owners parking and then coming and complaining about the parking."

The city says the rates stayed the same for parking, but the kiosks were installed for efficiency.

"It's more efficient to maintain the lot especially during the snowy season," explained Joe Fawcett, assistant municipal administrator for the city of Bowling Green.

"But it's also more efficient for parking enforcement because we can read the license plates rather than walking through the lots to collect meters."

The city says with the kiosk, customers can also get mobile alerts and extend their meter time from their phone without getting a ticket.

BG plans to install other kiosks across the city in the future, but will use feedback from this one to improve the parking experience.

One benefit of the kiosks is being able to use cash, credit or spare change, but you do have to enter your license plate number and that's what's causing some mixed reviews for customers.

"We had to walk away and come back," said Becky Robertson because she couldn't remember her plate number. "The parking gentleman was very nice and showed us how to do it and we never did it again."

"I think once people use them they will be fine," explained Vicki Cramer who said she didn't mind the kiosk. "They just have to be familiar with it."

Both business owners and city officials want to provide more education on the new kiosks so customers can feel more comfortable parking downtown again in the future.

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