Smart phone app for parking use continues growth in Dells

Smart phone app for parking use continues growth in Dells

by Ed Legge

August 9, 2016-

Jody Ward would love it if everyone “parked smart” in downtown Wisconsin Dells.

The police chief continues to tout the benefits of using the smart phone application known as Passport Parking to pay for their parking when visiting downtown.

To that end, he recently began handing out coupon cards that award one hour of free parking to anyone who downloads the app, and he again hailed the city’s year-plus usage of the system in addressing the Dells Parking Board on Monday evening.

“I’d like to market this more to let people know we have this system,” Ward told the board. “I think they’ll love it.”

Use of the app in the Dells has doubled this summer compared to a year ago, Ward reported to the board, and he hopes that the discount cards — which he has handed out to area businesses in hopes they are then given to customers — will further boost Passport usage.

Anyone who hasn’t already downloaded the app can use the coupon code — 110110 — for $1 off the first session after downloading it.

Ward said summer-season usage of the app has increased from approximately 1,500 at this point in the summer a year ago to around 3,000 as of Monday.

“Frankly if we have more people moving forward using Passport, we may need fewer pay stations,” he said.
The board voted to support Ward’s continued efforts to promote the application, in spite of a single contrary voice regarding the coupon’s use, from High Rock Café Chef and Co-Owner and Dells Business Improvement District (BID) committee member Justin Draper.

“I just hate the coupon and ‘dollar off’ concept; that’s something we’re trying to get away from, discounted prices,” Draper said, voicing his concern for customers who might not have a smart phone. “If you don’t have a smart phone or credit card, you don’t get a dollar off.”

“The intention is excellent,” said Parking Board member and BID committee Chairwoman Kelli Trumble. “The challenge is that it comes across as a dollar off parking, and you do have to download the app.”

Ward suggested that smart phone use is probably higher among vacationers, as “60 to 65 percent of people have smart phones, and you’d think the vacation demographic is a little higher,” he said. “At least we’re getting it out here and letting everyone know we have this.”

The Passport app also requires a credit or debit card for payment. But Ward pointed out that, once parked, registered and paid via the app (in various increments, including all day), visitors can always increase their time at the meter, by using their smart phones and without having to return to the meter.

The app even reminds users if their parking time is running short.

Ward said the majority of the city’s approximately 900 meters are numbered as part of the system. “Some olds (meters), I don’t have (Passport) stickers on, and they don’t get a lot of use,” he said. “Everything on Broadway has a Passport parking sticker with an individual number, as do the side streets,” he said.