Looking for a legal and free or inexpensive parking spot in the city of Philadelphia is not unlike Ahab’s search for his white whale. If I absolutely have to drive to a thing in Philly I don’t want much. I only want a parking spot relatively close to where I am going, in a decent neighborhood, that won’t cost me goo-gobs of money for my night out. I don’t object (much) to paying for parking but having run afoul of the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA), getting little love letters which sometimes turn into accessories (some people may call them a boot), I try to take SEPTA – public transportation -so that I can avoid parking in the city of Philadelphia unless I absolutely have to.
You see, when I drive, once I’ve found a meter (hooray!) there is then the issue of finding payment for the meter. Parts of Philly have meters with kiosks that take cash or debit or credit cards; no problem. There are parts of Philly which have older meters which only take change, some only accepting quarters (ONE QUARTER FOR SIX MINUTES!!) for payment. After scrounging around in the car, accosting, uh, asking people on the street to break a dollar or to exchange my change for a case quarter, it’s all groovy. Meters, however, have time limits, and there is the race to get to the meter before the time expires because the PPA are like notebook carrying ninjas…they sense an expired meter within seconds of time running out.
It’s such a bother!
But, being a Philly girl and doing things in the city means that there are times when I have no choice but to drive and unless I want to park in a lot (as if!) I have to find street parking. A friend hipped me to the app meterUP and I am hooked!
Description from the app store
meterUP, powered by Pango, is the Philadelphia Parking Authority’s new way to pay for parking using your mobile phone. No more searching for cash to pay at the meter! You can also avoid parking tickets when your time expires by extending your parking session right from your phone!
To get started with the app, you download it from the app store for iOS or Google play for android users.
Enter some info, your license plate and credit card.
Now you’re all set to find a parking spot.
Please note: I took photos at two separate locations so apologies for any confusion.
Kiosks that participate with meterUP will have a “zone” number displayed on the side of the machine. Open the app and enter your parking zone number. This is found on the kiosks and meterUP signs.
Click the orange P button to select your desired amount of time to park.
Depending on the zone, you will be able to pay increments of six or ten minutes. (There may be other prices but my experience so far have been six or ten minutes.)
Tap “Confirm,” where you’ll get a summary of what you are paying for, and you’ll be able to start parking.
Seven minutes before your paid session expires, you will get a warning to extend your time.
The meterUP site has a great FAQ section which you can read here. Below are some additional thoughts about the app:
You only pay for what you use. For example, I need to go into the city twice a week for a class. The meters start at 8AM but I often park at 7:30ish. I can prepay for the meter using meterUP for the time that I am required to pay and ONLY charged for the time that I am required to pay.
Also, when I have ended my session early, I was only charged for what I used. The app will round up to the next block interval amount that you were to be charged. So if the zone charges for every six minutes, it rounds up and charges you for the next six minutes
A record of all of your parking sessions, as well as amount spent per month is available. Your parking sessions are available for you to review. You can see how long you parked, what zone you used and the amount spent. I suppose this information would be handy for people who want to keep a record of their parking or to fight a ticket with the PPA. There is an option to have this information mailed to you should you need it.
This feels a little stalkery but could be helpful should there be some issue and you need to fight a parking ticket.
You cannot pay for one zone and park in another. I called meterUp’s customer service today and was informed that if I were moving from zone to zone I would need to start new sessions for each parking zone.
It costs one cent to use each session. One cent is a small price to pay for such convenience but I don’t want to give the PPA anything extra. I try to be strategic with parking, giving myself the maximum amount of time since I know that I will only be charged for what I use. I can end my session early if I need to. If I underestimate the time I need, I have to extend my time plus pay for that extra penny and yes, I am aware that I sound like Scrooge McDick fussing over a penny but hush.
Parking rates increase if you exceed your maximum park time in a zone. The example from the meterUp site:
The spot you want to park has a rate of $1.50/hour and the posted time limit is four hours.
You can park from 10:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m. and pay a total of $6.00.
At 1:53 p.m., you receive a notification that your time will expire, and you choose to extend the time.
From 2:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m., the rate is doubled, so you pay $3.00 an hour, a total of $12.00.
At 5:53 p.m., you receive a notification that your time will expire, and you choose to extend the time.
From 6:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m., the rate is tripled, so you pay $4.50 an hour, a total of $18.00.
I didn’t realize this one until I read the meterUP FAQs. The idea is that parking in a spot is not a long term deal. There are limits and people (ok me) would take advantage of a prime spot if there were no consequences. I should have known that PPA wasn’t going to allow people any break but for the convenience of not having to scrounge for change or rush out to feed the meter before the first act is over, I don’t have to like this bit to appreciate the service.
PhillyVoice has a hack for not having to pay extra: If you pay at the kiosk initially and then re-up via the phone app for extended time you’ll avoid the doubled fee. I am not sure HOW this works because I have not tried this. I guess you would have to just watch your time, like the old days, only you would have to note which zone you are parked in. The app does not offer a list of zones with addresses. The map within the app only provided a dot indicating where my car was, but not the zone I parked.
So far my data has been secure. The app feels a bit intrusive as it’s tracking your car and shows you on a map where you’re parked but I have not gotten any kind of creep factor when using the app. Since using the app I have not had to make a mad dash out to the car to feed the meter, forgetting my keys and having to rush back or silently fussing at the PPA person just doing their job (but man does that ticket suck!). I still don’t LOVE driving in the city but know that I can park and leave it without a parking ticket makes it just a little but better.
Tell me: Are you using meterUP? Love it? Hate it? Dish!