MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The way we’ll pay for parking in Minneapolis is about to change. In fact, you won’t need to have change or any money on you at all.
Four years ago, the city switched from the traditional coin-only meters to new pay stations and electronic meters. But you still have to pay those with quarters or credit cards.
Next week, the Minneapolis City Council is expected to approve a new mobile meter, allowing drivers to pay for their parking via cell phone app.
Parkmobile is already used in more than 600 cities across the U.S. Drivers pre-load their credit card information or set up an account with the app.
Once at a parking spot, you punch in the spot’s code, select the time limit and walk away. The app will send text message reminders when the meter is about to expire. You can add more time from wherever you are.
“It’ll be great,” Brandie Bass said. “Especially in the middle of winter when it’s freezing cold, you don’t want to run a couple spots down. It’ll be nice to sit in your car and type it in.”
City Councilmember Kevin Reich said the Parkmobile app isn’t about making money for the city, but adding convenience for businesses and their customers.
“Parking is a major asset, not only for the constituents or drivers,” he said. “It’s real important for merchants and restaurants who depend on that on-street parking.”
Since the city installed credit card meters four years ago, 40 percent fewer tickets have been issued. Reich expects that number to continue dropping with the mobile app.
“Think about if you’re out at dinner, with the convenience of your phone, when you’re debating, ‘Should I get that dessert or glass of wine?’ It’s no problem! [Punch it in your phone] and you’re done.”
Traditional meters will stay up for those who don’t want the app, so don’t kick your change to the curb just yet.
The city says Parkmobile will charge a small fee, between 10 and 25 cents, for when you first pay the meter. And it gives discounted rates to users who set up a pre-paid “wallet” account with them.
The pay-by-app spaces will be tested at 500 parking spots in Minneapolis this May. The entire city is expected to be set up on the mobile payment method by the fall.