As of this January, the UAA parking services is implementing a new way of paying for parking through the PassportParking app. The app is designed to be convenient for nontraditional students, especially in the winter, because it enables students or visitors to pay for their parking through the app instead of outside at the Pay’n’Park. Falon Harkins is the UAA associate director of parking services, and says that parking services started a soft launch in November for a small group of users to prepare for a full roll out in January for the spring semester.
“Passport can be a solution for virtually anywhere on campus that you need a permit to park,” Harkins said. “In essence, if you can use a Pay’n’Park machine to buy a permit for the area you can use the app in lieu of that. Also, if you park in one place on campus and move to another, with we will still be able to see that you have paid for parking. Passport can be used at the parking meters for up to two hours and eliminates the need to carry loose coins.”
The students who will best benefit from the service are those who visit campus occasionally. Traditional and on-campus students would save more money by purchasing a parking permit for the year or the semester.
“A permit for the semester is $160 and allows you to park as much as you want through the semester,” Harkins said. “A two-hour parking session with the app is $4.20. If you are a full-time student spending several days a week on campus then a permit is a better choice. If you are an online student using the library or in a program that only has you on campus occasionally, then the app is a great option.”
UAA parking decided to implement the Passport app after the UAF system incorporated it into their parking services.
“Passport services many universities; also many other universities use or are adopting pay by app options,” Harkins said. “UAF chose Passport and that was a deciding factor in moving forward with them on our campus. Keeping the platforms consistent across campuses is one of the ways we can help ensure we are being efficient while also still growing and offering new programs that serve the varied parking needs of our customers.”
Harkins says the biggest benefit to students using the Passport service is its convenience.
“Convenience is the main benefit,” Harkins said. “You can pay from your phone, there is no need to walk across the parking lot to the machine then walk back. No need for a line at the machine and best of all you can extend your session directly from your phone. There is a 20 cent convenience fee for each transaction, extending a session is not a new transaction so you only pay the fee once regardless if you extend it for more time.”
This service is also convenient for students who park at different parts of campus throughout the day because the service uses the vehicle’s license plate instead of a physical permit.
“Additionally since it uses the license plate of the vehicle so there is no physical permit to concern with being visible or being blown off the dash by a defroster,” Harkins said. “Also since you do not need to see the car you could pay for another car if you wanted, let’s say someone is coming to campus and you want to pay for their parking you could do so without meeting them in the parking lot by simply having them text you the license plate. The app also holds a record of all your transactions so you can do things like add up exactly how much you spent on parking in a semester to determine if a permit is a better choice. You can set it to notify you by text when your parking is about to run out, which is handy.”
The UAA parking services website lays out the process for using the PassportParking app. Step one is to download the app, which is available through Google Play and the App Store. Step two is to enter the zone number, license plate number, and length of stay. Step three is to use the service wherever there is a Passport sign or decal.
The service is still very new, but Harkins estimates that about a quarter of all current Pay’n’Park machine users will be using the app by the semester’s end and that there will be at least hundreds of users. Glenna Muncy, director of Parking Services, is quoted on the UAA parking service saying that this service will bring a good resource for convenient parking.
“UAA Parking is excited to bring this new parking payment option to campus,” Muncy wrote. “Passport will provide additional convenience to students, staff, faculty, and visitors who can now pay for parking right from their phone without ever leaving their car, office, classroom or study group. Convenience is especially important in Alaska’s northern climate where winter temperatures frequently drop below freezing.”
UAF isn’t the only university that has previously implemented the PassportParking app. The UAA parking web page states that this app is frequently utilized in bigger cities.
“Passport can be found in large cities like Boston, Chicago, Toronto and Detroit, it’s also used at other Universities like North Carolina State University, Oregon State University, Michigan State University and the University of Central Florida,” stated the UAA Parking service website. “The parking app is available to use at all of the 5,000 parking spaces on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus.”
For students who are interested in trying the PassportParking app, parking services are currently running a promotion where students can receive $2 off their parking session of $2 or more when using the app. Once the session is started, users can choose the discount button in the app and enter the code to receive $2 off.