More Options when Parking in Downtown Ocala
Finding a parking spot may not get any easier in Downtown Ocala, but paying for it is. A new smartphone app is designed to replace putting coins in the parking meter.
It's the first of its kind in Florida. The service has been around for nearly a month, but most people don't even know it exists.
"Have you heard about passport parking?"
"No," said Kerri Halchuk.
"Never heard of it," said Timothy Young .
"No I have not," said Lavonne Adams.
There's a new way visitors to Downtown Ocala can pay for their parking.
"If I had to go down here for court I wouldn't have to be digging for change," said Kerri Halchuk.
Halchuk had no idea she could use her cell phone to pay for her spot.
Passport Parking gives you three options. You can pay using the mobile app "Passport Parking Mobile Pay", calling by phone or with a single text message.
If you decide to pay through text message all you have to do is text your zone number then your space number and the amount of time you want to put in your meter.
Charles Rich is the Code Compliance Manager for the city of Ocala. He said city officials were trying to find a cheap way to give people other alternatives to pay for parking, rather than just using coins.
"We found that we would be paying between $6 to 10,000 to change all of the meter heads each, which was just cost prohibitive," said Rich.
With this service the only thing the city has to pay for is a 25 cent charge card fee for each customer session. If you decide to use Passport Parking you would pay for your time plus a 25 cent fee for using the service.
It's an extra quarter, but rich said it's more convenient.
"We don't want you have to leave your dinner to go put more money in the meter," said Rich.
While some people agree.
"Just a couple of clicks on your phone and boom you pay up," said Adams.
"Like the person I just came with today didn't have any change . So yes it would've been perfect for him to use the app," said Halchuk.
Others are going to stick with the change.
"I don't really think it's convenient one way or the other," said Young.
At least now you have options next time you visit downtown ocala.
Before using Passport Parking you have to complete a one time registration process.
There is also an option to receive alerts that tell you when your meter expires.
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