Miami Beach residents and visitors have a new way to find and pay for parking. Rather than inserting credit cards or carrying a pocket full of change, they can now pay through an app on their smartphones.
The city introduced two new mobile apps this month, Parkmobile and ParkMe-Miami Beach. These apps help locate parking facilities and provide turn-by-turn direction to vacant parking spots in the area.
“If you want to go to any restaurant on Ocean Drive, just put in the name and it will provide you the location of the closest parking facility in that area,” said Saul Frances, the city’s parking director.
As an incentive to use the apps, Miami Beach drivers who register and provide proof of residency at the parking department’s customer service center will pay $1 an hour instead of the regular $1.75-per-hour rate on South Beach.
The city also will waive ParkMobile’s 35-cent transaction fee, which is how the app generates revenue.
“It’s a matter of choice,” Frances said. “If the consumer wants to pay at a parking meter and not use ParkMobile, they could also do that. It’s really about providing options.”
The apps also can warn users when it is time to feed the meter.
“Users will get a text message that will tell them that their session will expire in 15 minutes and if they wish to extend, they can,” said Frances. “It’s certainly a lot more convenient than having to go back to the pay stations to add more time.”
The city has wanted to implement something to relieve parking problems and make life easier for visitors and residents. It introduced a system called iPark last year, but it was a small operation that went out of business.
Parkmobile and ParkMe, in contrast, are among the world’s largest providers of real-time mobile parking.
Parkmobile has launched in 12 cities in Florida and says it has more than 2 million customers around the world.
“In the state of Florida alone we have over 200,000 already signed up to our service,” said Brent Paxton, an executive vice president of ParkMobile. “We know this is going to be a tremendous success here in Miami Beach.”
Both apps are free and available for iPhone, Android, Windows and Blackberry devices.