St. Paul Launches Passport’s Mobile Parking App

Originally appeared on Mobile Commerce Daily

St. Paul promotes hassle-free parking with mobile parking app

By Alex Samuely

February 11, 2016

Mobile-enabled parking meters are rising in popularity

The city of St. Paul, MN, is the latest metropolis to streamline the parking experience via mobile, allowing residents and visitors to remotely pay for metered parking using a new smartphone application.

Mobile is beginning to permeate the transportation sector with increased force, as evidenced by the slew of towns and cities accepting mobile-enabled payments for parking and bus or train tickets. St. Paul residents will be able to download the PassportParking app to purchase additional time for their parking meters without having to physically stop by their vehicle, suggesting that this trend will catch fire in many other locations by the end of the year.

“The way people pay for parking is unquestionably overdue for an update – it’s inefficient on a grand scale, and uses an anachronistic currency type,” said James McNally, senior manager of business development atProlific Interactive, Brooklyn, NY.

“It’s likely we’ll see more mobile payment options for parking in the near future; these types of transactions are heavily tied to legacy infrastructure, and while the up-front implementation costs are unappealing for cash-strapped cities, the long term efficiency is impossible to ignore.”

Convenience for motorists

Consumers in the St. Paul area may download the PassportParking app for their iOS or Android devices to take advantage of this capability. The app will prompt users to input their zone number, which will be posted on signs at their location.

Then, individuals must enter their vehicle’s license plate number. The app will save recently-inputted plates for future transactions.

Residents must also specify the length of their stay to view the full charge amount, after which they will be asked for their credit or debit card information to complete the transaction. Users can also opt in to receive text or email reminders when they are nearing their parking time expiration.

The app will add a 15-cent fee to each unique transaction, although the fee will be waived for those who actively store money within their PassportParking accounts. Users will need to deposit a minimum of $10 to circumvent the 15-cent charge.

The fact that drivers can remotely add funds to their PassportParking accounts will likely be a massively enticing feature for plenty of users. If individuals are out to dinner at a restaurant and are concerned about nearing their parking limit, they can pull out the app and purchase more time without leaving the table.

Consumers who do not want to relinquish more of their smartphone’s real estate to download the app can access the platform by visiting or calling 651-571-4037.

The service is currently available in the downtown area only. A more widespread rollout, which will include areas around University Avenue and the Capitol, is expected to occur soon.

The future of parking

Mobile-enabled parking meters will undoubtedly be a staple in the future, especially as consumers become more accustomed to making purchases with their smartphones. Many major hubs have already implemented similar systems for remote-pay meters, proving residents’ desire for forward-thinking payment methods.

PassportParking already operates in a plethora of United States metropolitan cities, such as Chicago, Detroit and Boston.

The PassportParking app’s transactions require only a few steps

Over the summer, parking technology manufacturer Cale eased customers’ payment experience with the introduction of Apple Pay into its terminals, foreshadowing a possible shift in non-merchandise based payments (see story).

Additionally, in a new angle on how merchants are leveraging beacons, businesses in several Canadian cities partnered with mobile parking payment app HotSpot last spring to foot the bill for parking as a way to drive longer in-store visits and acquire new customers (see story).

“Cities should make a reasonable effort to ensure that services like parking are accessible without using a smartphone, but at the same time cities can responsibly educate, guide, and incentivize any luddite holdouts,” Mr. McNally said. “And while the entire construct of driving and parking individual vehicles is not one that cities should be promoting long-term, in the short term cities need to make sure that it’s convenient and easy for people to visit (and do business or spend money).

“Nearly every type of product or service that comes from the private sector is going to be enhanced and augmented and transacted by tech (or mobile), and cities’ own services will need to keep pace,” he said.

“It’s pretty safe to say that nearly all parking payments will happen through software/Internet of Things (car apps, wearables, handsets) in the future, so early moving cities have a chance to stand out as forward-thinking by implementing mobile now.”

Alex Samuely is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York. Reach her at