By Matt Constas and Lindsey Witmer
In an effort to make parking easier and more convenient for its residents, the City of Ithaca has teamed up with the parking app Parkmobile, which allows users to pay for parking from their smartphone. The free app requires is a license plate number and credit card information to create an account.
“With Parkmobile, you don’t even have to get out of your car to use it,” said Frank Nagy, Ithaca’s Director of Parking. “No more chasing quarters in your car, no more standing in the elements, no more standing in the rain and no more waiting in line to use the pay machine.”
Parkmobile, LLC, which originated in the Netherlands, has been rapidly expanding since moving to Atlanta, Georgia in 2008. Since Parkmobile first came to Ithaca a few months ago, the city has implemented over 1,000 parking meters throughout the city.
When a user pulls into a parking spot, they will find a green sticker with a parking zone number located on the meter or pole in place of a removed meter. When this number is typed into a new transaction, the built-in GPS picks up the location of the meter and the payment can be made. Once the transaction is complete, the app sends notifications as a reminder of parking duration. A user can extend their parking time at any point from their phone without having the inconvenience of returning to the car.
Director of Marketing for Parkmobile, Tina Dyer, believes that the app’s expansion into a small city like Ithaca will make parking in the area easy to sustain, resulting in financial benefits.
“The City of Ithaca will see an increase in revenue from using the service, while also seeing a decrease in administrative and maintenance costs by not having people go out there and collecting cash and coins and servicing the meters,” said Dyer.
Parkmobile also aims to help reduce the amount of tickets given to Ithaca residents.
“The data on the app will allow me to adjust rates, control how much parking is needed for an individual street or zone,” said Nagy. “Compliance is what we are looking for, the higher amount of compliance the lower amount of tickets issued.”
Ithaca resident Priscilla Timberlake recently downloaded the Parkmobile app and states that it has simplified the parking process.
“For me it is just not very convenient to have to walk over and deal with the machines. Sometimes it is over a block away and a bit of a pain in the butt,” said Timberlake.
Nagy also stated that Parkmobile will soon be available for use in parking garages around Ithaca, in addition to its meters.
Nagy’s first priority, however, is to continue to spread the word about the app’s arrival to the community.
“We will hit the streets and hand out information. Parkmobile is posted on the back of each meter and on every other meter post that we took out. We will put out press releases and continue our work at fairs and events throughout the city,” said Nagy.
For those who are not the most technologically savvy, Timberlake can relate, stating that technology can be intimidating, but this app is nothing to be afraid of.
“For us old-timers it’s not so easy to use technology. I understand it is the way of the future but it’s a little bit of an adjustment to use,” Timberlake said. “It’s just easy once you download it.”