Parking Services enters digital age with ParkMobile app for metered parking spots

Kansas State Parking Services introduced ParkMobile to campus Feb. 17. Visitors using parking meters can use the app to pay for parking instead of coins. (Archive photo by Renee Dick | The Collegian)

Students don’t have to fret about finding coins to pay parking meters any longer. Parking Services now uses ParkMobile to receive meter payments on campus.

Jeff Barnes, director of parking and transport, said the switch to the app has been a long process.

“We started working on this last year … and it just took a long time to get the contracts,” Barnes said. “We were working through purchasing and working through General Counsel to make sure all the proper languages were involved and everybody could sign off on it. So there was a lot of back and forth between ParkMobile and K-State to try and get everything set up so it would go.”

Paying through the app is simple — once its downloaded, the user puts in their license plate number and credit card information. When parking, the user pays for their spot by inputting the meter and zone numbers located at the stall. The user is also able to add time without returning to the meter.

“Eventually, we’re looking to — if we change the way the garage operates — we may incorporate the … paid time stalls in the garage,” Barnes said. “There’s also a possibility as we move forward toward LPR — license plate recognition.”

A driving force behind this switch was cost: Barnes said it’s expensive to maintain and repair the current parking meters. In addition, people don’t carry coins as many as they used to.

“Those meters are so old we have difficulty updating them,” Barnes said. “We can’t add credit card payments to it, it can’t accept dollar bills. It’s expensive or difficult to change the rates on the meters themselves.”

Parking Services officially implemented the app Feb. 17. The first day, there were 4 users. As of Friday afternoon, there were 79 unique users. So far, a large portion of the app’s users have been parking in the small lot next to Anderson Hall, Barnes said.

“Eventually, based on the usage of this, we’re hoping to maybe get rid of the meters and just move to the ParkMobile app,” Barnes said. “I mean, it’s only been out here for almost a week now. So we’re going to have to wait and see what the usage is, who’s using them, where they’re using them and that type of stuff.”

If the meters are removed down the line, Barnes said signs would be posted with information describing the ParkMobile processes. Currently, the process is posted on the meters.

ParkMobile is the largest parking app in the U.S. and Barnes said the app is already used at the University of Kansas and in many urban areas. Visitors familiar with the app would benefit as well as students and faculty, he added.

My name is Bailey Britton and I am the former editor-in-chief of the Collegian. Previously, I have been the assistant news editor and the managing editor. I have also interned for the Manhattan Mercury and the Colby Free Press. I grew up in Colby, Kansas, and I am a junior in journalism and English. Through the Collegian, I aim to provide the K-State community with quality news coverage while we learn to serve our campus.