Situated in the Rocky Mountains, Bozeman, Montana is home to Montana State University. It is also the gateway to Yellowstone National Park, and some of the best skiing and hiking in the world that many outdoor enthusiasts flock to each year.
Bozeman had historically not charged for on-street parking in an effort to encourage tourists and residents to spend more time downtown at local businesses. They did, however, have one paid garage where they wanted to expand payment options. City officials were in search of a solution that was easy to use and future proof. “We knew that more and more cities were moving to mobile pay parking. Passport seemed like an easy to use solution that wouldn’t slow the parker down,” said Michael Veselik, interim Parking Manager.
Bozeman has a highly transient population including the 17,000 students that attend Montana State University and hundreds of thousands of tourists who come through Gallatin Valley each year, so having a solution that was trustworthy and recognizable was important to the City. Bozeman did not experience the same decline in tourism that other cities did during the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Therefore, the launch of its white label application powered by Passport, Park BZN, in January 2021 required a robust effort.
The City used a number of tactics to make a splash and get the word out about the Park BZN app, including signage in the garage, a social media push and a local newspaper article. The City even partnered with downtown businesses in a joint campaign to encourage app utilization. In an effort to promote good customer service, the City gives out validation codes to customers who experience problems with the app. Furthermore, when residents appeal citations, they are informed of the app as a payment option in the garage.
Since launching Park BZN, the City continues to see a steady increase in mobile parking transactions and compliance rates are similar to those of pay stations. In the app’s first six months, the City exceeded average revenue of similar sized cities by 12 percent, and they only expect revenue to continue to rise as more and more people travel to Bozeman over the next year. Veselik mentioned, “We hear many visitors say ‘Oh I already have this app downloaded on my phone.’” Officials agree that the familiarity of the app has helped promote utilization.
As the City watches the popularity of the app grow and experiences for themselves how easy it is to manage on the back-end, they have started to think more creatively about what their future parking operations might look like. “We want to be an innovative city, and we believe we have the tools to become that with Passport as our partner,” said Veselik.
Through the data they have gathered using OpsMan and with Passport’s support, the City is confident they can pursue more active management of the downtown area. In addition to plans to add new parking management districts over the next year, Bozeman recently awarded their permitting and enforcement RFP to Passport, and will begin implementing Passport’s digital enforcement and permitting solutions over the next six months.
“We want to be an innovative city, and we believe we have the tools to become that with Passport as our partner,” said Veselik.