One of the oldest cities in the United States, Providence, Rhode Island is the capital and largest city in the State. Situated on the Providence River, the City is known for its multiple institutions of higher learning, including Brown University, and is packed with rich culture and history.
Prior to launching a mobile pay parking option more than eight years ago, Providence had a long history with meters. In fact, more than 63 percent of their parking revenue was generated through coin meters alone. The success and popularity of the meters made city officials hesitant to implement a new solution such as mobile pay parking, fearful that more options could cause confusion and lead to compliance issues.
After evaluating several mobile pay parking providers and even running a pilot, officials chose Passport and its mobile payment application, Passport Parking, because of its flexibility and ease of use.
Providence was able to procure Passport through the purchasing alliance, MAPC, which eliminated a cumbersome RFP process, provided preferred pricing and ensured a faster implementation. Once the app went live in the City, officials realized that mobile pay parking was here to stay.
“People want convenience. They have their phones handy which means they don’t have to waste time looking for coins,” said Liza Farr, Curbside Administrator for the City of Providence. “We find that when one person uses the app, it sticks, and they don’t revert back to coin or credit card meters.”
“People want convenience. They have their phones handy which means they don’t have to waste time looking for coins,” said Liza Farr, Curbside Administrator for the City of Providence.
The City attributes a rise in parking compliance to the convenience of the Passport Parking app. Historically, the town’s ticket revenue far exceeded parking revenue, however, after adding more convenient ways to pay for parking, compliance rates gradually increased and the number of tickets written decreased dramatically. In 2020, for the first time ever, parking revenue exceeded citation revenue, and the number of tickets written had decreased by 70 percent.
Driving App Awareness through Passport’s Validation Program
In the summer of 2022, the City of Providence launched a validation program and radio ads to help drive awareness of the Passport Parking app. The validation program ran from June to July 2022 and as a result, the City saw an 81 percent increase in transactions and a 68 percent increase in mobile pay revenue compared to the same time period in 2019.
After the validation program and radio ads ended, the City continued to see upticks in mobile pay numbers. In fact, the City saw a 42 percent increase in transactions and a 28 percent increase in mobile pay revenue from December 2021 to December 2022, all pointing to the effectiveness of the program and the sustained adoption of the mobile pay app.
Mobile and the Future
As hardware updates are needed, officials note that the continued rise in mobile pay popularity could mean less of an investment on hardware for the future. The City acknowledges that they will likely never eliminate meters altogether, but are now in a position to begin removing some that are outdated and replacing them with coin and mobile pay only spaces.
“Many of our meters have operated in the 3G network, which means they stopped accepting credit card payments in June 2022. By directing credit card payments to mobile pay instead of replacing over 1,400 meters, we have been able to save over $600K.” said Farr.
In addition to switching to mobile pay only zones, the City is also looking into ways to use Passport’s mobility management platform to set them up for success in the future. They have identified their curb as an asset and believe that they could explore charging for loading zones, valet and ride sharing drop off.