Drivers can now use their smartphones to pay to park on Hillsborough Street.
Raleigh launched a three-month pilot program Thursday that allows drivers to use a mobile app to pay for metered parking at spaces between Oberlin Road and Concord Street.
The city has contracted with Charlotte-based company Passport Parking for the trial run. If the program is successful, Raleigh will request proposals from app companies to take the program citywide.
“We just want to see what kind of usage and activity we get out of it,” said Holt Craven, a business process analyst for the city’s parking operations.
The app allows users to check how much time is left on the $1-per-hour meter, view their parking history and add time to their stay without having to return to the street.
No matter how drivers pay – with cash, credit card or through the app – they must move their cars every two hours along Hillsborough Street. The 242 spaces chosen for the program were selected because the area is frequented by N.C. State University students who are more likely to use their phones to pay for things.
“College kids, they’re going to use their credit cards more than people downtown will,” Craven said.
The app has also been used on N.C. State’s campus since 2015.
City crews will install signs along the corridor to inform people of the new service and explain how to download the free app, which can be found in the iPhone App and Android Google Play stores. Users can also manage their parking at the company’s website, ppprk.com.
Once the trial period ends in February, officials will examine data gathered and decide if they want to make the program citywide, Craven said.
“We would be doing a (request for proposals) to pick out which vendor best suits our needs, so that’s all to be determined,” he said.
Such parking services have caught on in some other cities, including Asheville and Wilmington, which both use Passport.
In fiscal year 2016, Raleigh collected $1.46 million in revenue from pay stations, Craven said. Across the city, 51 percent of pay-station transactions were made by credit card. Usage near Hillsborough Street was 13 percent higher than the city’s average.
“We’re expecting some high usage from Passport, to not even have to pull out your credit card and just pay from your phone,” Craven said.
Chris Cioffi: 919-829-4802, @ReporterCioffi