By Martin Kidston/Missoula Current
With the touch of a few buttons, Missoula residents can now pay their parking fee without standing at the meter by using a new app unveiled by the parking commission on Friday.
Developed by Passport, a software company based in North Carolina, the app provides another handy way to pay for parking and extend times without leaving a lunch date or a business meeting to return to the meter.
“We’ve heard from Missoula downtown partners that they wanted additional options for convenience and not have to go to the meters,” said Tiffany Brander, administrative services manager with the Missoula Parking Commission. “If you don’t have access to a mobile app, you can just utilize the online website.”
Last year, the parking commission issued a request for proposals and attracted a number of companies. Three came to Missoula to interview with the commission’s selection committee, which included staff members, board members and community representatives.
In the end, the application developed by Passport rose to the top.
“One of the big reasons was also the security they provided,” said Rod Austin, director of the parking commission. “We scrutinized that pretty heavily, and it was a large piece of the decision making. They use pretty high standards.”
Conor Buckley with Passport described the company as a software firm that provides technology for mobile parking and transportation payments. The firm has launched similar software in Great Falls and claims a variety of large clients, including the cities of Boston, Chicago, Detroit and Toronto.
Buckley said the app is free to download and users pay roughly 25 cents per transaction. Implementing the technology with the city’s parking kiosks was free.
“The way we approach this is an ongoing relationship,” said Buckley. “The implementation is on Passport’s time. It’s essentially a program that’s free to implement and then it’s an ongoing transaction fee.”
On-street signage and decals on parking kiosks will direct users to download the app using what Buckley described as a quick and simple process. The app is available for download from the iPhone App Store and Android Google Play under PassportParking.
“With inclement weather, people don’t like to wait at the meters and stand in line,” said Brander. “This is going to give them the ability to not do that. It also gives them the ability to extend by app, so if you’re stuck in a meeting and you need more time on the meter, you can just use the app.”
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