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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 license plate is used by parking-enforcement officers or parking-lot staff to check that you've paid, since you don't have to interact with a kiosk or stick a receipt in your window. This is particularly useful for motorcyclists, who are used to having their sticker receipts stolen by greedy motorists.

Every lot operator or municipal entity partners with an individual app provider, so you may wind up with several of these installed for use in a city or for travel. Besides the four below, youll find city-specific apps that are white label, versions of the same app customized by the developer for a specific client. This includes ParkChicago and ParkBoston, made by PassportParking.

Earn and redeem validation credit

Validation is very old school: you park in a lot associated with a merchant or other business, and get a stamp or ticket that you can use on leaving the garage to offset some or all of its cost. Parkt is trying to take that into the smartphone world by working with businesses to tie purchase amounts directly to validation offsets.

With the Parkt app, a driver can find participating lots and connected businesses. So far, it's available just in downtown Seattle. At the lot, a user scans a 2D code on the lots ticket, and finds available offers. At each business, a user scans a merchants validation code. These accumulate until used.

Because the system ties all this together, when its time to exit the lot, the ticket is already associated with a drivers account, and all or part of the balance is deducted and the user pays the remainder. Parkt also allows withdrawal of dollars in the form of Bitcoin.

Use valet stands

While Zirx and the like simulate a valet, there are also plenty of valet stands associated with restaurants, hotels, convention centers, and other businesses. CurbStand works with over 400 locations right now in Austin, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Ft. Lauderdale, Houston, L.A., and Miami.

The valet slip handed to a driver has a 2D code and information about the app, if someone hasn't already installed it. When a customer is preparing to leave, rather than go to the valet stand and request his or her car, the slips code can be scanned, and the parking fee can be paid directly in the app, while also notifying an employee to bring ones car around.

Curbstand recently acquired Curby, which is the white-label backend for many independent valet apps. You can find many of these in the app store, either powered by Curby or many other app developers, and all are highly specific, such as DFW Airport Valet for a service at Dallas-Fort Worths airport or Skypark, which serves San Francisco International.


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