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Use parking apps to find lots, garages, valet, and meters

Glenn Fleishman | July 21, 2015
If you own a car in America, you need a place to put it, overnight and intermittently. If you're lucky while at home, that's at a curb, in a drive way, or in a spot in a garage or lot thats yours all the time. For every other combination in commercial or business parts of cities, particularly downtowns, you'll almost always need to pay for it.

The apps also tell you the cost, which can vary: Luxe may charge a peak price during busy times, though rarely; Zirx charges based on the remaining time in a day and special events, such as a ballgame in the area you're parking. The cost in most cities except New York is around $12 to $20 (including tax) for a few hours up to an entire day during its service hours and $10 to $15 additional for overnight parking. Some services allow cash tipping or through the app.

New York is an outlier, like always: one service, Valet Anywhere, charges $11 per hour to a maximum of $42 per day with a $15 SUV surcharge. There are also unlimited usage monthly options, useful for workers or residents in areas served, which cost about $300 a month in most served areas.

The services have insurance policies to cover accidents when the car is out of your hands. They're parked in spaces the firms have leased in parking lots and garages. While they have the car, the companies can fill up the tank, wash it, and perform other tasks, which are slated to expand over time; imagine having them drop off dry cleaning and pick up takeout food en route to return your car. You can schedule a return or tap whenever you want it, again within the same service area.

Luxe even offers Drive Home, where you drop your car off, and when ready for pickup, the agent drives you home in your car (within 50 miles of its service area) for $25 plus $3 per mile. Its currently available just in San Francisco on Thursdays through Sundays.

Heres a list of other providers. (Its not a typo: theres both Carbon (which has an app out) and Caarbon (which is pre-app, but coming).)

  • BluCar: Claims Beverly Hills and San Diego, California; Boulder and Denver, Colorado; but doesnt provide service maps
  • Caarbon, San Francisco (invitation only, no app yet)
  • Carbon, San Francisco (daytimes, weekdays, invitation only)
  • DropCar, New York City
  • Valet Anywhere, New York City.
  • Vatler, San Francisco
  • ZWAYO, Boston

 Reserve and pay for a parking lot or garage space

Unless you frequently pay to park in a lot or garage in an area of town youre visiting, you probably have little or no idea how much its going to cost and what lots to try. I've wasted seemingly hundreds of hours of my life circling blocks and trying to find the best deal or even an available spot during a peak time.

Parking reservation services try to take the unpredictability of cost and availability out of finding a spot, as well as offer you convenience you can't get as a drive-up customer. Companies that offer this service have contracted with parking-lot outfits to sell unused spaces, often at a high discount.


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