“The City of Boston parking operation and revenue is 100% managed by the city. ParkMobile is a tool that simplifies the process for the city and its parking customers.”
As of this month, the ParkBoston app that one might use to park their car in public downtown is powered by ParkMobile. The contractor is the “number one parking app in North America,” but that’s hardly what we find most exciting about this development.
There are several bells and whistles worth some praise—“a map view to locate nearby spaces,” a “Find My Car” feature that “navigates a user back to their parked vehicle,” plus “mobile alerts when a parking session is about to expire,” “and new payment options like Apple Pay and Google Pay.”
But most revolutionary, perhaps, is the ability to re-up without returning to the meter. That’s right, the time has finally come.
We asked ParkMobile CEO Jeff Perkins all about the new app, which is “usable in over
7,000 spots across the city,” as well as how it might be helpful during the Orange Line shutdown.
This is a pretty big thing for drivers, being able to feed the meter from their phones as opposed to having to alternate between using an app, pumping the meter with quarters, and then maybe using a credit card for a third stretch. Please tell us how this feature will work …
ParkMobile allows the parker to register for an account and pay for parking directly through the app or mobile web. ParkBoston, powered by ParkMobile, works the same way—users can download the app on iOS or Android devices and will be prompted to create an account or sign up using their Apple or Google accounts. After account creation, the user will be asked to enter a license plate number and then they are ready to start parking. The ParkMobile app works in Boston and, in tandem, ParkBoston works at any location where ParkMobile is accepted.
The user only enters their payment information the first time they start a parking session and then it is saved for future use. The process via the website is similar, however, users have the added benefit of using the Guest Checkout feature if they prefer not to create an account.
Was the ability to pay meters without returning to your car one of the biggest things that drivers said they wanted in this kind of app?
While being able to extend your parking session in the ParkBoston app is a unique feature, there are many reasons drivers appreciate the app. The greatest benefit is the convenience of a digital parking system and not having to carry change or swipe a credit card every time you park.
ParkMobile is a big company that’s in multiple cities. What have been some unique challenges to implementing the current bells and whistles in Boston in particular?
We have completed many large implementations over the years, so they tend to go smoothly. However, communicating the change to thousands of current and new customers takes some coordination and effort. In this area we must give a lot of credit to the City of Boston as their team helped us get the word out in a professional and timely manner via regular communication with active ParkBoston users.
In the past, there has been some noise over whether this kind of app should be delivered by a specifically Boston-based developer. I’m sure you’ve heard similar things around the country. What’s your response to anyone who gets concerned when something as valuable and complicated as public parking gets into the hands of a private company in the first place, let alone one outside of Massachusetts? Why is ParkMobile uniquely positioned for this contract?
We work with municipalities to provide solutions that work for every driver. For example, the exclusively branded ParkBoston app, created specifically for the City of Boston, provides a local and recognizable feel. The City of Boston parking operation and revenue is 100% managed by the city. ParkMobile is a tool that simplifies the process for the city and its parking customers.
We are the number one parking app in North America with over 38 million registered users. Our national footprint is helpful to cities with a large tourism business, like Boston, because many visitors already have the ParkMobile app on their phones. Additionally, we have a presence throughout Massachusetts and New England, and have a local manager that grew up and resides in greater Boston.
With the T in such a bad state, and trains shut down around the city, how much is something like that expected to impact parking and how can ParkMobile help with that?
The impact of Boston parking due to the MBTA Orange Line shutdown is yet to be determined but the significant busing operation the MBTA is providing should minimize the effects on Boston parking. ParkBoston helps by ensuring the app is operational so anyone who wants to park in Boston can use the app without interruptions. We also can send in app messaging to notify all users of anything the city thinks their parkers need to know surrounding traffic, road closures, etc.
Finally, do you have any tips for parking around Boston based on your experience developing the app? Or is using the app itself the best guide to finding the best place to park?
ParkBoston is the most helpful way to locate available spots in town through the app’s parking availability feature.