SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — As more and more aspects of daily life take digital form, drivers in Shepherdstown can continue to leave their coins at home and pay for parking via a mobile app. However, the town will change service providers today from the current Park Mobile app to Passport.
According to Steve Alemar, parking enforcement officer with the Shepherdstown Police Department, mobile parking apps, in general, are more convenient-for both police officers and the public.
“There are a number of things that make parking apps more convenient than traditional metering. If you’re parked at a meter and your time’s about to expire, the app will send a notification to your phone, and you can add more time without having to stop what you’re doing and go out to feed the meter,” Alemar said. “For the police department, using a mobile parking app cuts down on expenses for us, including the time it would take for someone to go collect the money from the meters.”
Additionally, Alemar said, if there is a discrepancy over a parking ticket, the timestamp on the mobile app provides an accurate record of payment. If someone does get a ticket, they can use the app to pay the fine, he said.
“It’s simple to use a mobile parking app. Download it to your phone, tie it to your debit or credit card, put in the zone (you’re parking in) and put in the meter number,” Alemar said.
Alemar said Park Mobile worked well for Shepherdstown, but said there were a few flaws to the app. Someone using the Park Mobile app has to put the license plate number of their vehicle into the app every time they use it, Alemar said, which works unless people carpool and use a different license plate number from their own.
He said Passport works better because only the meter number is required instead of the license plate number, and said there will only be one parking zone for Shepherdstown on Passport, rather than the multiple zones on Park Mobile, something he said caused some confusion among users.
“The parking apps are great for college students, because they’re used to using their smartphones to do everything anyway. They can get a notification on their phone while they’re in class, rather than being late rushing out to the meter,” Alemar said.
Despite the example of college students using the app, Alemar said the Passport service only applies to parking meters in Shepherdstown, not meters on the Shepherd University campus. The Shepherdstown Police Department has no jurisdiction over the campus, he said.
While the mobile apps may be more convenient for some users, Alemar said the parking meters can still accept coins from those who don’t want to use the app.
Passport service begins today. The app is free to download in the iPhone App Store or Android Google Play. For more information about Passport, visit www.gopassport.com.
Staff writer Mary Stortstrom can be reached at 304-725-6581 or www.twitter.com/mstortstromJN.