More than half of Kent State’s parking meters will be removed in the next month, and instead, students and visitors will pay for parking using an app.
The new Passport Parking app is already live and allows drivers to pay for parking on their phones, without having to touch a meter, something that has become a concern due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The hourly rate for parking will remain $1.25, but the driver will pay an additional 30 cents service fee. Kent State is not paying for the app.
Parking Services has been posting signage for the last two weeks and plans to have all changes made by Aug. 1. Current reopening plans have students beginning a staggered return to residence halls Aug. 17-26.
Throughout campus, Kent State currently has about 280 parking meters that are all about seven to eight years old. Due to changes in technology, they will be obsolete in December, said Larry Emling, manager of Parking Services.
"We had to start looking at other alternatives. Meters work great, but they’re labor intensive because students use a lot of coins, so we have to collect daily, count daily, and do repairs daily. The mobile app that Passport offers is pretty much hands free, and with the timing [of the pandemic] it’s an ideal time to make that change to a contactless form of payment," Emling said.
Drivers will purchase time on the app and will be notified 10 to 15 minutes prior to expiration. At that point, students can return to their cars or add time remotely as long as they have not hit the time maximum. The 30 cents service fee is not charged for adding time to an existing payment.
"One of the features I think students will like is that if I pull up to a space and it’s 95 degrees and humid, or it’s minus 10 degrees and snowing, I can buy time from my car or wherever without having to go outside and pay the meter," Emling said.
Parking services will still be walking through parking lots to check compliance and will not monitor the app remotely, Emling said. Through the app, drivers will have precise records of their parking times, which will give them more information to present if they are contesting a ticket.
Parking Services will leave 100 to 125 parking meters to offer option. They are planning to increase the number of paid parking spaces in anticipation of changes in the upcoming fall semester in which at least 60% of classes will be held remotely, although Emling said they are not sure how that will affect parking revenues.
"This semester is going to look different, so we’re not sure what to expect with permit sales. Will we sell out right away like we usually do, or will it be slower? If they’re only here one to two days a week, would they buy a permit or chose to pay as they go?" Emling said.
He added that some students chose the more expensive option of paying as they go, rather than buying a permit, because metered spaces tend to be closer to classes than the permit lots.
Most spaces have a two-hour maximum, but the permit lot across the street from the student center will charge $5 for all day parking through the app and some spaces around residence halls will have $3 overnight parking for visitors through the app.
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— Reporter Krista S. Kano can be reached at 330-541-9416, email@example.com or on Twitter @KristaKanoRCedu.