New parking app replaces ParkMobile in Grand Rapids

Originally posted on mLIVE Michigan on June 20th, 2018

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Motorists who rely on ParkMobile to pay for parking within city limits are being asked to transition to a new, Grand Rapids-specific mobile parking app.

The new app — Motu — has similar functions as its predecessor for the same $0.15 service fee per transaction. It’s advertised as an easier to use and more reliable service that will only work for Grand Rapids parking.

“We are replacing ParkMobile with a new, more localized mobile application that gives greater flexibility for what we want to do in the future,” said Josh Naramore, Mobile GR and parking services manager for Grand Rapids.

“I think some customers will find it a little bit easier because this is more specific to our market.”

Motu is a free app, and is already available for download for Androids and iPhones through the respective app stores by searching “Motu Grand Rapids.” It can be used at all city parking meters.

With the app, drivers can pay for on-street and off-street parking where signage is present. Users can also extend time left on the meter, receive notifications when their meter is nearing expiration, view payment history and receive email receipts.

City parking will transition between the two apps on Monday, June 25.

Grand Rapids has contracted with ParkMobile North America since late in 2009 to provide pay-by-phone parking services. The app’s popularity grew in Grand Rapids from about 4,000 transactions per month in mid-2010 to more than 35,800 per month in 2016. That trend continued into 2017.

Last year, the city renewed its contract with ParkMobile — a move that saw its service fee decrease from $0.35 to $0.15 per transaction.

Instead of renewing again this spring, the city commission agreed to a contract with PassportParking, Inc. in March for up to $135,000 to be spent annually for the use of the Motu app. The contract is for one year with two one-year renewal options available.

The change was made in an attempt to “greatly enhance and expand the pay-by-cell services” within the city.

Naramore said the city received a number of complaints about “hiccups” with the ParkMobile in recent years, including network outages and incidents where people were being billed for parking in other cities when they never traveled there.

On Tuesday, ParkMobile users in Grand Rapids were notified that the app will no longer be the mobile payment provider for on-street parking within the city. The app will still be available at Grand Valley State University and with some of the privately operated, off-street parking facilities in Grand Rapids.

City officials are holding a press conference at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, June 21, to introduce the new parking app and demonstrate its features in conference room 601 of City Hall.

Passport’s mobile platform has been adopted in more than 450 cities, universities and private operators around the world, including in Chicago, Toronto, London and Miami, according to the company’s website.

The Grand Rapids-focused Motu app is named after part of the city’s motto, “Motu Viget,” which means “strength in activity.”