Posted: Jul 20, 2013 9:46 AM by Tara Grimes - MTN News
Great Falls residents and visitors will soon be able to pay for all downtown metered parking with their cell phones.
The city launched a pilot program for what's known as "passport parking" in March.
This week the City Commission approved the idea for every meter.
While you can still pay with coins, you can also download a smartphone app that allows you to use credit or debit card information to pay; there is a 25 cent charge every time you use passport parking.
Craig Raymond, Planning & Community Development directors, said, "It just gives people more options. I run into people who hate going downtown because they don't have quarters on them or change, and they just forget or whatever, so they just don't go downtown sometimes because it's kind of a hassle to ... carry change like that so it's important to give people options."
At the public library, the city also tried out a solar-paneled parking meter that accepts credit cards; although Raymond says it went well, due to budget constraints and its high cost, the city will not implement it, but they may look at it again in the future.
A press release from deputy city manager Jenn Reichelt in March explained that the the Mobile Pay system will also let users sign up to receive text message alerts 15 minutes before their parking sessions expire.
Users can also extend or stop a parking session through a text or call through the PassportParking Mobile Pay app from anywhere, without having to return to the meter; Reichelt notes that the two-hour parking limits are still in effect.
Drivers can also can view their parking history and print parking receipts online.
Wendy Thomas, deputy director of Planning & Community Development in Great Falls, said at the time, "A lot of people don't carry cash, they don't carry change, they find it kind of a hassle to dig through their car and pockets to pay for their parking, and this is just a way for people to utilize their phones to pay for parking."
She added, "The older meters will still be there so if you like paying for parking the old-fashioned way by plugging the meters, you will be able to do that, too."
Another benefit of the program is the possibility of fewer parking tickets.
Tena Grigsby, assistant manager of Standard Parking, also noted, "With the convenience of being able to set up your smart phones, to let them know that, hey, you only have 15 minutes left, you know, its gonna give everybody a heads up so they can try avoid getting a parking citation."