Easier way to pay

By on January 8, 2010

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—By the end of the work week, Metra commuters will no longer have to find ever more creative ways to fold a dollar bill in order to pay for daily parking.

Metra will install an electronic payment system on Thursday, Jan. 7, that will make it easier for customers to pay the $1.25 for parking, and more efficient for Elburn police officers to collect the money. With access to two payment booths, each with four electronic payment terminals, customers will be able to more easily pay for parking as well as obtain a receipt.

Commuters will immediately be able to pay with cash, and by spring, Metra-specific debit cards will be available for purchase at the station.

“It will be as simple as an ATM to operate,” Elburn Assistant Village Administrator David Morrison said.

The receipt will also include the number of the parking space they are paying for, to reduce the likelihood of paying for the wrong spot.

The current payment system requires commuters to fit $1.25 in cash into one of hundreds of narrow slots in a metal container. When they do not have the entire amount in quarters, customers find themselves having to fold a dollar bill into a size small enough to stuff through the slot. There is a slim metal stuffer to assist with the process, but banging on the container sometimes works, as well.

As frustrating as it is for commuters to fold the dollar bill, it is just as frustrating for the police officer to unfold them. According to Morrison, people have developed their own unique folding techniques, the most creative of these being origami (a Japanese method for folding paper into the shape of a crane).

“It’s a consumer-friendly move,” Village President Dave Anderson said of the change.

The cost for the conversion to the electronic payment system is approximately $100,000, and will be paid for with Elburn’s parking fee collections.