Minneapolis officials approve an on-street parking mobile payment system

Benjamin Farniok

Cindy Quan, manager of Chatime tea shop in Dinkytown, often uses her smartphone to pay her parking dues to the lot located next door to her work. 
 
Quan uses an app to pay for parking, a process she said is more convenient than having to go out and pay at the meter.
 
Minneapolis residents could soon see a similar app for parking meters across the city. On Monday, some city officials approved a contract with Parkmobile, a smartphone app that lets users pay for parking without having to find a pay station.
 
The company has more than 600 locations in major cities across the country, including three in Minneapolis — with a fourth pending.
 
City officials began looking for potential apps to use last year before deciding Parkmobile would be the best fit.
 
If approved by the full City Council, the app would go into limited testing in a few areas in Minneapolis starting in May and expand to other areas in August and September.
 
It would be available across the city in October.
 
The app could help students evade parking tickets, said Ward 13 City Councilwoman Linea Palmisano.
 
“I wish something like this had existed when I was a student at the University of Minnesota,” she said. “I feel like students are particularly susceptible to parking tickets.”
 
The app allows users to pay for parking by credit card and transfers the payment to the city, updating parking devices and stations to show the spot is paid for. If the user decides they need more time, they can add more money to the meter through the app.
 
The app would require a 25-cent service charge in addition to normal parking prices. Users could also put money into a digital wallet, which reduces the fee to 20 cents.
 
Quan, who uses a similar app called PassportParking, said a glitch in the app didn’t allow her payment to be posted, which resulted in her car being towed.
 
“An employee saw the tow truck and said, ‘I think that is your car,’” she said.
 
When she complained about the error, however, she said the towing costs were waived.
 
Deb Wade, a monitor for the lot where Quan parks, said she is happy about the proposal, which would help people adjust to using a mobile app to pay their parking
expenses.
 
Ward 8 City Councilwoman Elizabeth Glidden said she expects the request to be approved by the council without debate.