Friday, October 18, 2019
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Alexandria Switching to ParkMobile App for Pay-by-Phone Parking

Over 1200 spots in Alexandria will soon sport a green Parkmobile sticker like this one. Courtesy photo.

Starting September 1, the City of Alexandria will switch to the ParkMobile app for customers to pay by phone for metered parking. The same system is used in the District of Columbia, Arlington County, Montgomery County, and Prince George’s County.

After downloading the free app and creating an account one time, customers can quickly use the app each time they park by choosing the zone number printed on parking signs and pay stations. The app will also show the zone numbers on a map, and will suggest the closest zones for easy selection.

Customers can choose the amount of time to purchase, up to the posted time limit for the parking location. If a customer removes the vehicle before the selected amount of time expired, the parking session may be stopped early and only the time used will be charged. This feature is currently only available for ParkMobile users in Alexandria and Montgomery County.

Customers using ParkMobile will pay the same parking fee of $1.75 per hour as is charged at pay stations and meters that accept credit cards, plus a convenience fee of 45 cents. The City does not pay ParkMobile for the system or receive any portion of the convenience fee.

Payment for parking may also be made by coin or credit card at pay stations or meters, or by calling a toll-free number. The app provided by the City’s current pay-by-phone vendor, Pango, will no longer be available in Alexandria after August 31.

Interesting Tidbit About ParkMobile:

BMW bought ParkMobile this past year.

it says is the largest mobile parking services provider in North America. This isn’t BMW’s first parking initiative, but it promises to help the German brand craft a parking offering it can market around the world. And notably, this isn’t just about finding a way to profit beyond selling cars — if you ask BMW, it’s about solving traffic woes.

The company claims that as much as 30 percent of city traffic is created by people hunting for parking spots. If it can reduce that figure by helping people find open spots, it could reduce road congestion an tackle a major “pain point” of driving. In that light, this is as much about keeping customers interested in the concept of personal car ownership as anything else. If traffic and parking become less nightmarish, you may be inclined to buy a BMW instead of hailing rides whenever you need to get around in a hurry.

It wasn’t hard to see a deal like this coming. BMW has had a minority stake in Parkmobile since 2014, and its expansion into services like a virtual assistant suggested that it was increasingly interested in all aspects of driving. The question is whether or not BMW can significantly expand Parkmobile’s existing footprint (it currently has over 1 million parking spots in North America) and become your go-to choice when you’re tired of looking for a free parking space.

For more information about parking in Alexandria, and to download the free ParkMobile app for iOs or Android, visit alexandriava.gov/Parking.

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