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March 13, 2008

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By Theresa Juva • The Journal News • March 13, 2008

NEW ROCHELLE - Parking meters at the New Rochelle Transit Center were upgraded this week to now accept credit cards - just in time for a 25 cent rate increase that went into effect on Tuesday, New Rochelle city officials said.

"People are understanding," George F. Rainone, the city parking manager, said of the rate increase. "Everything is going up. It takes a lot of money to run a facility of this size."
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The five-story 902-space parking garage opened in 2004, when parking rates were originally set at 75 cents per hour. Hourly rates are now $1 an hour, which will impact about 3,400 non-permit parkers a month, Rainone said.

The increase coincides with the city's unveiling of seven new parking meters that will allow commuters to pay with plastic. The new meters, which cost an estimated $60,000, were installed after commuters asked for an electronic alternative to rummaging through their pockets and purses.

"People had to have a lot of bills and coins, and there were a lot of issues with bill jams, but that's been greatly diminished," Rainone said.

Most commuters park their cars for an average of eight to 10 hours, but the new credit card payment is especially practical and convenient for commuters who leave their vehicles parked for up to five days, Rainone said. The machines might someday include a cell phone payment capability, he added. People can still use cash if they want.

At a news conference yesterday, New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson said the new meters are part of the city's larger parking-restoration project. The next phase of the plan will extend the parking time limits near the downtown businesses and restaurants.

Bramson said the rate increase at the transit center is necessary.

"The funds are being reinvested," he said. "The experience of parking in New Rochelle will be more convenient and user-friendly."

Reach Theresa Juva at 914-694-5012 or tjuva@lohud.com

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