Weekend visitors to Cocoa Beach will now be required to pay to park in about 200 non-metered spaces in the downtown. But don’t look for any new equipment – payment can only be completed with a cell-phone or computer, using high-tech ParkNOW!. Startingthe weekend of August 4th, 2012, most of the formerly free on-street spaces in downtown will no longer be free to those without permits.
Payment for weekend hourly or daily parking will be required and can only be done using the ParkNOW! service. Although Cocoa Beach has had metered parking for many years, until now, there was substantial free public parking in the downtown. But that’s changing. Parking in front of businesses on A1A and other parts of the downtown business district during busy weekends and holidays will only be free to those with permits. Everyone else can pay for parking only using ParkNOW! mobile Payment or they park at a meter.
For many years beachgoers have avoided paying to park at meters by grabbing the free parking spaces on A1A and elsewhere in downtown, just blocks off the beach. The result has been a loss of available parking for those who are planning to visit the local merchants, whether restaurants, bars, shops or service businesses. The City has taken a bold step of implementing the first US public parking scenario that does not offer any cash option or parking equipment. Instead, in its commitment to raise parking revenue and secure parking for downtown business customers, Cocoa Beach has created a paid parking zone without any of the conventional hardware. This choice means that the new revenue comes at virtually no expense to the tax-paying citizens of Cocoa Beach for additional equipment, maintenance, installation or upkeep.
Meters and spaces that that allow payment through ParkNOW have decals and signage indicating that the service is available. For new customers of ParkNOW!, there are a few simple ways to use the service. iPhone™ and Android™ phone owners can get a free app at iTunes or Google Play -- or on-line at www.ParkNOW.US. With the app downloaded and a payment means (credit, debit card) securely provided, customers simply scan the QR codes on the meters or signs, or enter the space number printed on the curb, and indicate how long they would like to stay parked. The system automatically updates the parking enforcement officers’ handheld enforcement devices, so officers can see that the space has been paid.
Customers who have other types of cell phones can pre-register by going to the website, www.ParkNOW!.US and creating an account. Then, when calling the posted local area-code phone number, 321-328-8566, to start a parking session, the ParkNOW! system will automatically detect the cell phone being used, and the account it goes with, and the customer can simply respond to prompts by indicating the desired parking duration. The credit or debit card (or prepaid account for those who have a ParkNOW! account in other locations) will be charged for the amount of time requested, along with a small convenience fee of $.30. Specific parking rates are posted, and range from $1.50 per hour to $10.00 per day. The $.30 convenience fee is the same for every parking session and session extension.
For those who fail to pre-register, a simple call to the posted Help number allows immediate registration with a customer service agent. John Adair of the City of Cocoa Beach suggests using the smart-phone apps whenever possible. “Using the app to scan the QR code makes it very simple for customers, and helps to avoid errors when paying to park. Plus, it’s faster than calling to park.” The patent-pending scanning solution lets customers scan the QR code using the ParkNOW! app on Android or iPhone (and soon onBlackberry too). The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. (see images below).
“We constantly thrive to give the customer the most convenient tools possible to take the pain away from parking. The QR code makes parking fast and simple.” adds Krista AltokTassa, President of Mobile NOW LLC.
Along with giving customers a fast, non-cash payment option, ParkNOW! has several other features that make life easier for those visiting the beach or downtown. When setting up an account, customers can choose personal options including reminder text messages to alert them that time is about to run out and needs to be extended. Since parking can be extended by using the same method used to pay the first time, customers can remain on the beach (cell phone signals permitting), or in a restaurant or bar, instead of running back to the car to feed the meter. Currently, 30 parking meters accept ParkNOW! payment. The rest of the meters will be added to the program in the coming months. Only ParkNOW! can be used to pay at non-metered spaces. For permit-holders, parking is still free. For those who prefer to use coins or who don’t have a cell phone, the meters still accept coins.
Because the meters are not digitally connected, they will not show the time paid when customers pay with ParkNOW! Enforcement officers are carrying state-of-the-art smart phone devices and will be able to see which cars are paid and which are not, even though the meter may still show “Expired“. Customers are reminded not to worry that the meter does not show the pay by phone time – if the ParkNOW! transaction is confirmed by the system, whether by app or phone or web, the space is paid and the enforcement officer will know.
During this first phase, ParkNOW! service is available in about 200 non-metered spaces and at 30 meters, but the service will be rolled out to all of Cocoa Beach’s metered parking soon. The ParkNOW! service is provided to the City with no up-front investment and no maintenance costs. The only expense for the City is for credit card transaction fees required to process parking payments. Customers choosing to use the service pay a small convenience fee of $.30 to park or extend their parking and $.10 for reminder text messages (plus applicable text rates charged by cell phone plan provider). For those who pay meters by coin, there is no additional convenience fee. By adding the service, the City expects to increase available parking for local business customers, add parking revenue and reduce customer citations at meters. Customers who use the service can park for more time at once and add time remotely, thereby avoiding parking tickets for expired meters.
MobileNOW! is a world pioneer and leading provider of cell phone and other cashless payment methods for the parking industry in North America, operating on three continents under the service name ParkNOW!™ . In addition to enabling virtual payment and collection options, the ParkNOW!™ parking system offers full enforcement, management and reporting capabilities.MobileNOW! ‘s corporate office is in Garden City, NY with regional offices in Florida and elsewhere. For more information, visit the ParkNOW! websiteat www.ParkNOW.US .