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Technology & Innovation

Washington’s Parking Garages Get Into The App Business

In response to a growing number of visitors along with recent city ordinances restricting or eliminating on-street parking, some parking garage owners are turning to smartphone technology.

What’s the Latest Development?

Parking garage owners in the Washington, DC area are turning to technology to attract the growing number of evening and weekend visitors to the city. Smartphone apps such as ParkMe and Parking Panda show drivers not just the locations of nearby garages, but parking fees as well as the number of available spaces. The goal, as Colonial Parking chief executive Tony Blair says, is to “make sure people who may be a little less familiar with the city feel very comfortable making their parking arrangements.” In some places, garage use is up by as much as 15 percent.

What’s the Big Idea?

Due to various recent city ordinances, including the installation of bike lanes, there are fewer on-street parking spots available. ParkMe co-founder Sam Friedman says apps like his offer garages “visibility” as more people rely on smartphones for tourist information. For some new garages currently under construction, technology will be included that will enable customers to pay for their spots through their phones as well. This is not yet the case for some older garages: Because they lack the equipment that allows them to connect directly to the apps, an attendant must manually handle customer payments.

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