Paying for parking is going mobile in College Park -- Gazette.Net


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After about two years of discussion, College Park officials finally picked a vendor to provide mobile parking-payment options for drivers.

On Feb. 11, the City Council hired New York-based MobileNOW! to supplement College Park’s kiosk parking system with a remote-payment feature.

The pilot stage of the project is expected to launch by April. It will allow mobile parking payments at College Park City Hall, the shopping center at U.S. Route 1 and Knox Road, and the parking garage by Ledo Pizza on Knox Road, said MobileNOW! representative Krista Tassa.

Cash and credit cards will be accepted at the kiosks, but MobileNOW! users will be able to create or extend transactions by calling or using the MobileNOW! software application and paying with a credit card.

“If you’re in a restaurant or you’re in class, you can extend your hours from your phone,” Tassa said.

The College Park system will require users to prepay their accounts, then deduct payment when parking, through a phone call or a parking app. Each transaction will cost users 35 cents in addition to the cost of parking, Tassa said.

MobileNOW! collects profits through the transaction fee, so the feature will be free to the city, she said.

MobileNOW! has been operating the mobile parking system in Montgomery County since 2010; College Park will be its first client in Prince George’s County, Tassa said.

Richard Javier of Hyattsville said he comes to College Park regularly to eat and shop. He said he would like to be able to pay for parking from his phone.

“I think that would be much better,” he said. “It would save you from having to freeze.”

Alicia Bynoe of Baltimore, a University of Maryland alumna who works in College Park, said she would much rather use a mobile service than a parking kiosk.

“It’s just more convenient; you don’t have to wait in line,” she said. “The only thing I would say I don’t like is [the] service fee per transaction.”

Even with the transaction fee, a mobile parking system still is better, Bynoe said.

Once College Park users create a MobileNOW! account, they can use the cellphone app to pay for parking where the service is offered in Montgomery County, as well, Tassa said. Eventually, the company hopes to expand the feature to additional locations in College Park, she said.

College Park Councilman P.J. Brennan (Dist. 2) said mobile parking payment gives drivers a convenient new option while maintaining the current system for those who prefer it.

“It’s about practical solutions,” he said. “I don’t want to be a city that just follows a trend, but instead identifies the value behind new technology.”

eeastman@gazette.net