Out of time? 
Parking app to the rescue

City offers new method for feeding downtown meters

Allison Blevins, communications and marketing director for the Business Improvement District, demonstrates the high-tech use of one of the parking meters along Colorado Avenue in downtown Grand Junction. A new app called Passport allows patrons of downtown businesses to feed the parking meter by using a smartphone. Blevins tried out several methods to allow patrons to pay for parking without using change, and found Passport (formerly ParkX) easy and simple to use.



Passport



Shoppers parking their cars downtown will soon be able to pay for parking using an app on their phones, as part of a yearlong pilot project the Downtown Grand Junction Business Improvement District proposed to the city.

The idea is to make paying for parking more convenient for people visiting downtown, to try out a new method of collecting parking fees that doesn’t require using coins, and make it easier for people to contribute to a financially stable parking system.

Currently, there are about 1,000 metered parking spaces in the greater downtown area, according to Allison Blevins, director of the Downtown Business Improvement District. Any of those spaces will be available to park in and pay for using Passport, a mobile app already being used in Texas cities including El Paso and Corpus Christi.

Blevins tried out several methods to allow patrons to pay for parking without using change, and found Passport (formerly ParkX) easy and simple to use. The app uses your license plate number to track your payment, sends the user an alert when time is almost up, and allows the user to purchase more time remotely.

“You can pay for parking in like 10 seconds,” Blevins said.

The pilot program allows users to continue to use coins for meters or try the new method with the app, which does not cost the city anything. The service is paid for with a 35-cent convenience fee charged to the user.

The trial period for the parking app is just one of several suggestions the organization made to the city to improve parking downtown, but it’s the only suggestion that the city has agreed to put in place.

Parking is free downtown through the holiday season, and the new app pilot program should begin in early January, Blevins said.

The BID’s recommendations came after review of a study by Walker Parking Consultants last spring, which found that there is sufficient parking but people don’t think enough spaces exist.

“I think people have this perception that if they can’t see the store they’re going to when they park, then it’s too far away,” Blevins said.

Other ideas to recommended by the organization about parking include:

■ Create a parking lot for employees to free up parking near shopping for customers, and offer employees monthly or yearly passes.

■ Implement a permanent mobile payment system for existing parking meters, allowing payers to use credit cards.

■ Raise rates on 10-hour meters to 25 cents per hour and keep the 24-minute meters in high-traffic spaces that need constant turnaround.

■ Continue to have the city of Grand Junction operate the parking system.

■ Extend the enforcement hours to 5 p.m. on weekdays and hire another employee to help enforce parking. Parking is currently free after 4 p.m.

■ Continue to offer free parking along Main Street.

Scott Hockins, the city’s special projects manager, said there hasn’t been any decision made on the rest of the parking suggestions. He said a meeting is planned with the city manager after the first of the year to discuss the options.


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