Commuters appear to be on board with a plan to switch to annual permits for parking at Fairfield's railroad stations, since no one showed up in a bid to derail the proposal at a Thursday night public hearing.

The Parking Authority then proceeded to unanimously adopt the plan, and will go into effect on July 1. Previously, permits were issued for a six-month period.

Changing to an annual permit has the potential to save the Parking Authority money, said Mary Kay Frost, the board chairwoman.

The new format will decrease the staff's workload, postage and handling costs, and printing expense, according to a Parking Authority document. It will also give Cindy Placko, the authority's manager, more time to work on special projects, and investigate grants to improve train station facilities. In addition, the authority would have access to all the fiscal year's revenue when all permits have to be renewed at that time.

Westport, Greenwich, Darien and Norwalk are among the area communities that already issue annual parking permits for their rail stations.

Commuters, however, will have to pay for 12 months of parking -- $340 -- in a single lump sum.

Placko said a notice about the possible switch to annual permits was sent with renewal notices in January and all but one of the responses was in favor of the proposal.

"One person said he was against it unless we reduced the rate," Placko said, "but I don't see that we can afford to do that." She said Fairfield's parking permit rates haven't been raised since 1995.

Placko hopes the state Department of Transportation will have the process issuing parking permits at the town's third train station, scheduled to open this fall, in place by the beginning of May. Permit holders for the Fairfield and Southport stations will be given the option of switching to the new Fairfield Metro Center depot off lower Black Rock Turnpike.

"I'm going to keep pressing the state; I'm going to keep pressing Metro-North," she said, adding so far she only knows of a few commuters who definitely plan to switch because the new station will be comply with all access guidelines for people with disabilities.

The Parking Authority is also working on computer software that would print the complete permit.

Now, the car registration number must be written in by hand, and mailing labels put on envelopes.

"What we're looking at is 8-and-a-half-by-11, and it will have on the bottom an area that tears off and becomes the permit," Placko said.

Another section would serve as a receipt, and the middle of the sheet would have the instructions for display.

"So, hopefully we can just fold it up and put it in a window envelope," she said.