Minneapolis' parking meter payment app goes citywide

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Ew, don't touch that! Now you can feed any meter in the city from your phone.

The city of Minneapolis wants you to eat dessert uninterrupted.

No longer shall we abandon our table-mates to make ill-timed offerings to the parking-meter gods right before the flourless chocolate cake drops. Minneapolis' parking app, which lets users feed their meters from their smartphones, is now available citywide.

In August, the city launched a pilot program giving drivers the option of paying to park on North Loop and Downtown West streets through its MPLS Parking app. City officials say they had 8,400 users during the test run and since it didn’t suck they’re rolling it out across all meters.

“Prior to even launching the pilot program, there were folks who were tech savvy, they maybe had traveled to another city that had this application, and were asking ‘Why can’t the city of Minneapolis have something like this?’” City Council member Kevin Reich says.

With the free app — available through the Apple Store, Google Play, and MplsParking.com — parkers simply create an account and enter the space number, desired amount of time, and payment method. The city tacks on a 25-cent transaction fee (15 cents if you buy a monthly membership deal for a buck) used to cover any costs.

Once the payment goes through, a countdown begins on the app indicating how much time is left. The app can send a 15-minute warning via text or email before the meter expires. The feature might help Vicki Lopahs, who says she would use the app situationally, cut down on those “Oh shit!” moments.

“I was like, ‘Oh shit! I was supposed to feed the meter 15 minutes ago!’” says Lopahs, recalling a past parking folly. “I hope I don’t have a ticket!’”

Though she usually tries to avoid paying for parking, Kim Rorie often ends up at a meter while running around town. The app would come in handy during winter and dinner-and-a-show nights out.

“If you’re trying to do restaurant-theater and you get a good spot and want to snag it, you don’t want to have to go back to deal with it,” the St. Paul woman says. “It does feel like a good idea just for convenience.”

While the app won’t replace the sidewalk payment stations, Tom Lucas says he’s up for an easier option after fumbling with one in Uptown for a minute. “I gotta tell you, it seems a little too confusing for me,” Lucas admits of the payment stations. “Now, I’m not the village idiot. I’ve got a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree. I was an officer in the service — I dealt with nuclear weapons — and I can’t figure this out. It takes me twice as long as it should. So, anything that’s easier, it’s clearly better.”

Lucas’ only concern with the electronic payment method is that an identity thief might jack his info. Otherwise, he’s on board.

“If I knew it was 100 percent foolproof then I’d probably be more likely to use it than not,” he says.


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