Bethlehem Parking Authority is officially launching a new parking payment process on the “smart meters.” While the meters may be “smart,” let me tell you about a few of the experiences I had playing with it while out and about today. (Note: I’m not the brightest bulb on the shelf, but I’m not to easily frustrated with learning by doing.)
1. I strongly encourage you to upload the app on your smart phone BEFORE you head out. Best to do this in a place with wi-fi access to limit the charges to your network.
2. Set up your account online. The ParkNow app is very similar to the Interstate E-Z PASS., accept you dont just wave your phone at the meter. The account will draw from a pre-paid amount you may set up with a credit card or paypal.
3. Use the app feature to remind you when your meter is about to expire. The app will connect to your calendar at whatever reminder time you set. The app will also text you with 5 minutes left.
4. (pay attention to this one ->) Pay attention to your phone. If an alert sounds, it may be the app. I have a habit of ignoring my phone alerts when I’m deep into conversation – because I’m a polite person.
5. If your meter expires before you extend time, there is no memory on your phone of the location. You will either have to remember the meter number to text another payment, or go back to the meter to re-scan the QR code.
The system is convenient once you figure out how to engage with it.
Be gentle with all of the business owners downtown. They have no control over the system, and are learning how to use it, just as we are. Not sure how I feel about $.35 enters per transaction – but it’s still cheaper than a $15 parking ticket. Also consider all the time you left on the meter when you had spare time even though you drove away. I always felt lucky when I pulled into a meter that had time left. Now I won’t be able to leave a present for anyone who parks in my spot. Oh well.
I understand there will be a team of ParkNow staffers to help people figure out the system during First Friday. They may be wearing identifiable hats.
Perhaps a more sensible person would actually read the ParkNow company website which has an entire page dedicated to “How to use it” I will admit to not doing this before I started using the app. It only took about three tries before I felt totally confident with it.
Again, think “E-Z pass,” and you’re already in the mind set. Good luck! See you all downtown!