West Hartford will have a second mobile app that can be used for parking payment as of Oct. 1, and vehicles will be able to remain parked on the street overnight for several more months without obtaining a permit.
By Ronni Newton
A new parking app that will be active as of Oct. 1 will give motorists an additional method of contactless payment for West Hartford’s garages, surface lots, and on-street spaces in the central business district, and offers a lower convenience fee for users.
Flowbird app, available for mobile devices through the Google Play Store and Apple Store, is serviced by the same provider servicing West Hartford’s parking kiosks.
“Starting Oct. 1, West Hartford will have two mobile apps for consumers to choose to pay for parking: Flowbird app and Passport Parking app,” said Brooke Nelson, operations manager for the Town of West Hartford’s Municipal Parking Division. “The reason why we are introducing a second app is to encourage contactless parking while promoting competitive convenience fees to benefit the consumers.”
The Passport app will still be available for use by consumers, but there will be another “pay by plate” choice for use on mobile devices.
Flowbird is providing West Hartford customers with a reduced convenience fee for the first six months – from Oct. 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021 – of just 5 cents per transaction. As of March 31, the transaction fee will increase to 20 cents per transaction.
Passport’s convenience fee is 25 cents per transaction.
The base parking rate, which changed as of Feb. 1, 2020, is $1.75 per hour through the app or for payment by credit or debit card at a kiosk. Kiosks also accept coins, and the cost per hour for those who pay by cash is $1.60.
All kiosks are disinfected daily.
Several new touchscreen kiosks have also been installed throughout town, and the screens include electronic messages noting the the availability of the Flowbird app. Nelson said that as part of the town’s marketing of the new app, signage in the lots and garages are also being updated.
Like Passport, Flowbird will recognize the established parking zones in West Hartford which are:
- Zone 860 for on-street parking and parking in Arapahoe lot and Raymond lot
- Zone 475 to park in Brace lot and Farmington lot
- Zone 203 to park in Isham or Memorial garage
According to the town, roughly 20% of parking is paid for using the existing Passport app, and the town is hoping to encourage greater use of the contactless payment method.
Free 30-minute parking will continue to be available in the Brace and Farmington surface lots, and the 35 spaces for free, 30-minute parking for take-out and quick trips to local businesses will remain in place.
Town Manger Matt Hart said that the suspension of the overnight parking ban, which was originally established at the start of the pandemic and was extended from June 30 until Sept. 30, has been extended again.
“We have suspended the rule and allowed people to park overnight since the spring,” Hart said, and that will continue through Nov.. 30, 2020.
As of Dec. 1, 2020, a seasonal parking ban will go into effect, and will last through March 31, 2021. During that time period, any vehicles that remain parked on the street between the hours of 2-5 a.m. will be subject to ticketing unless an omit has been obtained online through the West Hartford Police Department or by calling 860-523-5203.
“Many communities have a seasonal ban rather than year round,” Hart said, to accommodates the clearing of snow from roadways.
One of the primary reasons the overnight parking ban was suspended in the spring was because many residents suddenly were faced with more vehicles than could fit in their driveways when college students were forced to vacate campuses and return home amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many colleges plan to dismiss students prior to Thanksgiving this year and finish the semester with online classes and finals, before returning to campuses in January.
“If we see an influx of cars we will have to evaluate,” Hart said when asked if there will be any accommodation for extra vehicles during that time period.
Hart said that changes to the town’s overnight parking ban are temporary measures prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. If the town were to move to a permanent change, the Town Council would vote on it.
“If it were permanent … then I would ask the Council to amend the ordinance,” Hart said.
“We are also looking at the potential for residential parking permits,” Hart added.
Anyone with questions or in need of more information on the use of Flowbird app in West Hartford Center and Blue Back Square can contact Brooke Nelson at [email protected].
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