LSU implemented a new parking service across campus that allows users to pay for parking spots through an app and extend the meter’s time remotely.
In early 2020, LSU began discussions on renovating the metered parking spaces throughout campus. This included replacing the physical meters and adding canopies, updating the software and integrating it with ParkMobile's contactless metered parking platform.
ParkMobile is the leading provider of smart parking services across the United States. The platform is currently offered at five SEC schools, now including LSU, and there are over seven million users in the Southeast region.
"The ease of use and the familiarity many users may already have with the ParkMobile system is something that made this program a great fit for LSU,” LSU Parking & Transportation Manager Josh Galasso said.
In light of COVID-19, contactless metered parking has a new practicality. By using an app to pay for parking, touching a physical meter can be circumvented. Galasso said this factor "was a strong selling point as we learned more about COVID-19."
The ParkMobile system is user-friendly and provides a variety of unique features. Before leaving for a destination, users can see on the ParkMobile map where parking spaces are available. Upon arrival, users enter their zone number into the app and set the amount of time they intend to be parked for. The mobile app then transfers that data to the physical meter without the user having to touch it.
Jeff Perkins, CMO and Head of Product at ParkMobile, said another feature of the app is the ability to extend a meter's time remotely.
"If you don't have an app and you're paying at a machine, you have to go back to that machine to extend your time," Perkins said. "With the app you can be ten miles away from where you parked and extend your time without having to run back to your car."
Galasso said the University is hopeful this feature will prevent students and visitors from receiving citations for expired meters.
In some areas of Baton Rouge, such as the Raising Cane's River Center, parking spots can also be reserved in advance for special events through ParkMobile.
"The days of going to concerts or sporting events and driving around aimlessly are over," Perkins said. "Now people are pre-paying for parking and driving right to that spot, and it's waiting for them."
LSU is looking into providing this feature on campus, but it is not currently available.
The 650 ParkMobile spaces are strategically spread out over campus. Most are located in high-traffic and high-visitor areas, such as Tiger Stadium and Union Square Garage.
Due to online and hybrid classes, many students are only on campus a few hours a week. Perkins said students could potentially pay for parking through ParkMobile instead of buying a permit.
Galasso said ParkMobile is an “efficient and convenient” way to pay for parking through users’ mobile devices.
"With a large number of students shifting to a hybrid model in light of Covid-19, the metered spaces on campus will provide students an affordable parking solution and an alternative to purchasing a permit," he said.
One metered hour with ParkMobile costs $1.50, while commuter parking permits are around $180. If a student is on campus for under 120 hours, ParkMobile would be a cheaper option than purchasing a permit.
If a student already has a permit but would like to convert to using ParkMobile, they are able to return their permit for a pro-rated refund.
"We want to offer that and we understand it's a difficult time and there's a lot of uncertainty. We have updated our refund policy on our website," Galasso said.
Both LSU and ParkMobile are hopeful about the benefits and convenience contactless metered parking will provide on campus.
"Once people download the app, it becomes a habit," Perkins said. "We're a screen one app for most people."