City discusses pay by phone parking

City discusses pay by phone parking
February 22
03:00 2018

Motorists shouldn’t expect to be able to pay for their street parking with their cellphone anytime soon in Winston-Salem.

According to a report presented to the Public Safety Committee last week, the commonly used practice of paying for parking by mobile app would require a drastic increase in local parking fees.

Currently, the city’s parking stations charge 25 cent for less than an hour and 50 cent an hour. Some single space meters charge a quarter for an hour or multiple hours. The fees charged by mobile app providers typically include a 35 cent convenience fee and an up to 25 cent per transaction credit card fee. Staff recommended a minimum of $1.50 per hour parking fee to cover all the expenses.

This would bring Winston-Salem in line with other cities that use pay parking apps like Durham and Asheville, which use Passport, and charge $1.50 per hour. Greensboro, which uses Park Mobile, charges 75 cents to $1 an hour and Chapel Hill, which uses the same app, charges $1.75.

The city’s existing digital pay stations, which can take cash or credit cards, would be compatible with pay by phone apps but the city’s 550 coin-operated single space meters are not. It would cost nearly $1.28 million to replace them with 75 pay stations.

City Council members on the committee didn’t want to increase the rate that much.

“Downtown is moving and we don’t want to discourage people from coming,” said Mayor Pro Tempore Vivian Burke.

City Council Member Jeff MacIntosh said he didn’t want to subsidize parking or have an increase that large, but would like to see the technology improve. The Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership sent a letter to the city about the issue, and also wanted to see parking meters modernized but would like to see any fee increase done gradually.

Though the city does make money off its parking fees, the goal of the fees is to encourage parking turnover. MacIntosh said the current fees are too small to do that and should go up in order to encourage motorists to use the underutilized parking decks downtown. The item is expected to come back to the Public Safety Committee in March.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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