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Park-n-Text Coming To Albany

WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas

Smartphone technology is growing, with cutting edge apps aimed at drivers that are changing the way people drive — and will serve as liaisons between motorists, parking meters and vehicles.

Head to any downtown area and the first thing on your mind is "where am I gonna park?"  Parking always seems to be at a premium in cities from Saratoga Springs to Poughkeepsie...

Brian Thomas is the Commissioner of Urban and Economic Development for the City of Utica, which is just now coming to grips with many of the parking problems that plague municipalities: he explains downtown parking is free for 90 minutes, and has been for 10 years... but good luck finding a spot.

Utica is looking for a solution that likely will entail installing pay stations, similar to new multi-space meters that have been replacing parking meters along the streets of downtown Albany and have been the status quo in New York City for some time. Utica's public and private parking garages would benefit, as Thomas notes they currently operate at about 50 percent capacity.

In other municipalities, those days of driving round and round, scouring blocks of city streets looking for a legal parking place, are going the way of the dinosaur.

New York City's Transportation department website features a Google-Maps powered section where motorists can find parking spaces. And the city now offers a Pay-by-Phone parking system that allows drivers to remotely top up on-street meters while attending appointments or going about daily activities. The Big Apple has rolled out a pilot program in the Fordham University area in the Bronx encompassing over 250 parking spaces where smartphone users initiate an app that locates available parking spaces in addition to processing payment.

Michael Klein is the Executive Director of the Albany Parking Authority. He says the city is putting mechanisms in place to allow drivers to access the same technology.  Klein says apps have been developed that can text message drivers when time on their parking place is near expiration, giving them the option to add time by texting back. Parking enforcement officers will use their handheld ticket-dispensing units to scan registration stickers to see who had paid and who had exceeded their time limit.

Klein expects to keep costs down - he points out that planning was done way in advance. 

You can hear more about Albany's parking plans from Michael Klein this Sunday during Midday Magazine at noon, here on WAMC.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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