116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY - Motorists in Iowa City now have the ability to pay for parking without dropping a coin in the meter or swiping a credit card.
Mark Rummel, the city's associate director of transportation and resource management, said the city and the University of Iowa recently rolled out a new mobile parking service called PassportParking, which allows drivers to pay for parking with their smartphone, tablet or other electronic device with no added charge.
The new service, which launched in mid-May, is available at 1,200 on-street parking meters, as well as the roughly 1,000 parking spaces between the Chauncey Swan and Harrison Street parking ramps. The service also has been expanded to include about 800 UI parking meters.
Using the PassportParking app, users input the code associated with the meter they wish to use - located on the meter itself - and pay for a select length of time.
'That is one really nice feature, it really just takes a few seconds,” Rummel said. 'We're really excited to see how this takes off.”
Users also receive a three-minute warning on their phone if their meter is about to run out and, as long as the meter allows it, they can pay for additional time without having to run back to their parking space.
While meters paid through PassportParking still will flash as if expired, city and university parking enforcement officials now will check meters through the app before issuing a parking ticket.
'This is much more streamlined for us,” Rummel said.
Motorists still have the option of paying with coins or credit card at most meters, with the cost of parking - between 75 cents and $1.50 - remaining the same for all forms of payment.
The city and UI will pay a 5-cent charge associated with each transaction through PassportParking. It's difficult to estimate what that total cost will be until it is known how much the app is used, said Jim Sayre, associate director of UI Parking and Transportation.
Sayre said the biggest benefit to the new service is the ease of use.
'The impetus was the customer convenience,” he said. 'It's pretty routine folks aren't carrying coins around these days.”
Sayre said the program also provides added data regarding parking patterns.
'I think having that information in the future might allow us to make decisions based on where people are parking, how long they're parking and what peak parking times are,” he said.
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