Parking smartphone app now available in Kingston as rate hike begins

Stefan from Poughkeepsie was on Wall Street on Monday promoting the parking app. (Dan Barton)

The price of parking on Kingston’s streets is going to double this month. But city officials are hoping a smartphone app that will allow users (for a price) to skip the ritual of hunting for change and dashing to the expiring parking meter will take some of the sting out of the rate hike.

The meter fee increase, from 25 to 50 cents per half hour, was included in Mayor Steve Noble’s 2017 budget proposal and approved by the Common Council. (The rate hike also affects fines for expired meters which will rise from $20 to $25.) Noble at the time argued that the fee increase would bring Kingston in line with other Hudson Valley cities and put the fiscal burden of improvements to parking lots and other parking infrastructure on those who use the lots.

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Noble said the rate hike would not require new meters as city technicians can change the rates by adjusting a dial inside the machines. Users will be informed of the new rates on a metal plate affixed to the meters. Noble said the process of adjusting the city’s 400 meters has already begun downtown and should be complete by the end of the month.

This month also marks the rollout of a parking app that will allow users to pay for and replenish meters remotely. The “Whoosh!” app is available for iPhone at Apple’s App Store and for Android devices via Google Play. Users can set up an account by entering credit card information and the license plate numbers of one or more vehicles they plan to park. A map of the city with “pins” at regular intervals is displayed on the screen. Users simply tap the “pin” closest to their parking space and enter the amount of time they wish to park. Parking enforcement officers can determine if a vehicle at an expired meter has actually purchased time with the app by entering the plate number. Users can also set up the app to send text alert when time is about to expire and keep records of parking payments. The app also allows users to “carry” time with them from meter to meter within the city. Users, however will have to pay a 35-cent “Convenience fee” whenever they replenish a meter using the app.

Noble said the city was also moving ahead with another key component of his parking plan — introducing payment kiosks into municipal lots where parking is currently free. The payment kiosks will charge 75 cents an hour for parking. Noble said that current plans call for them to be installed in all three Uptown lots, municipal lots on Cornell and Grand streets in Midtown and the Dock Street lot on the Rondout. Noble said the city expects to take delivery of the kiosks by mid-July and install them by the end of the month or in early August. Noble said that applications for $10 annual parking passes for the lots will be available about 30 days before the kiosks are activated.

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