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BU students to design new pitch for Somerville parking cards

Posted by Matt Byrne  December 12, 2011 10:04 AM

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The City of Somerville announced a partnership with a Boston University advertising program to boost the use of electronic parking cards in the city.

The effort comes after a push by the Traffic and Parking Department to replace some meters in the city's busiest squares with electronic equivalents, the city said in a statement. The cards, which the city said are under-utilized by residents, allow users to pay only for the time they are parked at a space, and to do it with a swipe, dispensing with the need for quarters.

The electronic meters, currently in a pilot phase at a handful of city lots and in some of the highest traffic city squares, may be installed citywide, said Matt Dias, director of traffic and parking, in a statement.

“We believe AdLab will be a great creative partner, designing a new advertising campaign that will, hopefully, educate residents and visitors about parking in Somerville’s business districts," he said.

This year, the city budget leans more heavily on parking fees that planners expect to collect. In June, during the budget approval process, Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone said the city expects to reap $1 million in new fees this year, while trimming positions in the division. In all, seven traffic enforcement officer positions were eliminated through layoffs and attrition.

The Boston University students will work with the city to gauge public awareness before targeting their campaign. To quantify sentiment among the parking public, the students are running an online survey.

“The students at Boston University and AdLab have been wonderful to work with thus far, and I look forward to sharing their work with the entire community," Dias said.

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