These are extremely challenging times. Coronavirus has fundamentally shaken the country to its core. People are sheltering in place and normally bustling cities have become virtual ghost towns. One bright spot in cities across the country, is that local parking officials are stepping up to help people in need.
ParkMobile works with over 400 cities across the country and we are in constant contact with our clients during these tough times. Many cities are proactively making changes to their parking programs to support their local community. Here are some of the things we’re seeing across the country.
1. Free or Discounted Parking
Many cities are implementing new policies like 30 minutes of free parking so people can quickly run into grocery stores, restaurants, and pharmacies to get essential items. We recently worked with the City of Decatur, located outside Atlanta, to create a special promo code in the ParkMobile app so people can get 30 minutes of free or discounted parking in the city. You can read more about it in this article. If you are interested in setting up a free parking promo code, reach out to your Account Manager.
2. Encouraging Mobile App Usage
Cities are proactively promoting parking app usage. Studies suggest that coronaviruses may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. Having fewer people touch the physical meters, coins and paper bills reduces contact points. Raising gates at cashier attended facilities and charging via the parking app creates safe social distancing. By simply adapting their parking operations to a more digital experience, cities are taking steps to potentially reduce the spread of COVID-19 You can see sample Tweets from the City of Miami Beach and the New Brunswick Parking Authority (NBPA) encouraging app usage.
3. Converting parking facilities to overflow spaces for hospitals
During this crisis, hospitals are under great strain. They just don’t have the capacity for the number of people who need help. Parking garages near healthcare facilities are being converted into field hospitals to help with the overflow. So, if your city has parking garages near hospitals, there could be an opportunity to convert empty garages into critical healthcare facilities to service the community. Below are some news stories about this.
- Vanderbilt hospital sets up COVID-19 treatment area in parking garage
- Virginia parking garage being converted into field hospital for ‘worst case scenario’ amid coronavirus spread
4. Special parking permits for healthcare workers
Healthcare workers are critical to helping us fight the coronavirus. The City of Seattle recently announced they are offering free parking permits for healthcare workers, so they do not have to pay for on-street parking near the hospital. According to Mayor Durkin, “We want to make sure that healthcare workers can focus on delivering care to those who need it most. No healthcare worker should spend an extra ounce of energy worrying about parking before they work a long shift to care for our community.” You can read the article about Seattle’s permit program here.
5. Raise money for local charities
A lot of people are hurting right now. So, it’s a good time to give back to charities that are making a difference in the local community. At ParkMobile, we’re actively asking our millions of users to donate money to several local and national charities. People will be able to easily make donations right through the app and we plan to match a portion of the money raised. You can see the charities listed below. If you want to donate, open the ParkMobile app, enter the zone number associated with your charity, and select your donation amount ($1, $5, $10, or $20). It’s a fast and easy way to help.
- Zone #100 – Feeding America
- Zone # 101 – The Giving Kitchen, Atlanta, GA
- Zone #102 – Hook Hall Helps, Washington, DC
- Zone #103 – Colorado Family Meal, Denver, CO
- Zone #104 – Louisiana Hospitality Foundation, New Orleans, LA
6. Communicate What You are Doing
Whatever your city is doing during the crisis, make sure that you are effectively communicating that message to people in your area. The media outlets in your market will want to know the specific steps you are taking related to parking. Send out press releases and make city staff available for interviews. Also, use email, the city website, and social media channels – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Nextdoor – to get the word out. During this time, you want to make sure that your important message is reaching as many people as possible.
There are many challenges ahead, but we will get through this together. If the ParkMobile team can support you in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out.