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Parkmobile Premieres, People Learning to Use Hi-Tech Parking Meters in Downtown State College

by on May 13, 2013 3:56 PM

Parking in a downtown lot? Take note: No more checking every corner of the car for quarters to feed the meter or worrying about whether time ran out on that meter. 

POLL: New Parking Meters

I love them!
Hate them!
What's wrong with the old ones?
I can't figure out how to use them!

In lots downtown, Parkmobile is the new way to pay for parking – and it doesn't require any change. 

Monday marked the first day of Parkmobile's activity in the Beaver Avenue lot, Allen Street Lot, Fraser Street Lot, McAllister Deck and at all on-street parking meters in the Borough. 

Parkmobile works like this: 

Enter your license plate number into the kiosk and the amount of time the car will be in the lot. Using cash – exact change only – or a credit card, pay at the kiosk. Parkmobile will then ask for a cellphone number. 

You can opt to have a text message sent to your smart phone when time is running out on the meter. Simply text back to pay for more time.

Staffers from the borough's parking department were on hand Monday, giving motorists tutorials on Parkmobile. Borough Parking Manager Charles DeBow said there's even a mobile app that can be used at any Parkmobile location.

State College resident Eric Zimmett said he was one of the first people to use Parkmobile, complete with the app, Monday morning. Despite a few initial issues, he's excited about stress-free parking, thanks to new technology.

"I could put more money into my meter ... without leaving my office," Zimmett said. "I love it. For me, I don't know how long I'm going to be downtown parking-wise, I don't know how long I'm going to be in my spot, I can't always make it back to my spot in time, or how much is left in my meter. The text message notification will be great," he said. 

Others weren't quite as enthusiastic. There have been a few complaints because some people just don't enjoy having to adjust to the new technology.

Time limits in most lots run three hours, and the Allen Street lot and McAllister Deck have a five-hour time limit.

The new parking system will not be installed in the borough's parking garages. So you'll still pay the same old way when you park in a garage.

Parking enforcement staff can tell whether your Parkmobile meter is expired thanks to a specially-modified jeep equipped with sensors. As the jeep drives past parked cars, those sensors will read the license plates and can tell whether the meter is paid up.

Watch our Parkmobile tutorial:

Laura Nichols is a news reporter and @LC_Nichols on Twitter.
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