Downtown accessibility just got easier in Raleigh

For users of transportation — which is all of us — success in our travels requires some thought and attention. For example, in the case of driving, you have to provide attention to the actual journey, and you also have to find a place to park your vehicle at the conclusion of your trip. On the other hand, you generally don’t have to focus on departure time, or the number of stops your vehicle makes, since you control those.

Riding a bus or train is exactly the reverse: the train or bus leaves when it departs, not exactly when you want it to – hopefully on or close to its schedule – so you need to plan for that. On the other hand, the transit operator does not make you drive the vehicle, and they don’t make you search for parking either, so once you are on board you don’t have to think, other than making sure you don’t miss your stop.

Returning to parking — the payment machines that were installed in downtown Raleigh several years ago always felt like an incomplete solution. While they did allow for credit card payments, which was convenient, you had to go to the nearest machine, and often wait, and hope that the machine read your credit card correctly…

Fortunately, the City of Raleigh has implemented a parking app – Passport Parking – that works like a champ. It allows you to pay for parking, and to add additional time to the meter, all via your phone, without entering your credit card every time.

I have used it several times in Durham over the past year or so, and already used it a couple times in Raleigh since it launched in the capital city last week. What I have found to be an efficient approach for me is to:

  • Enter your credit card information into the app, ideally ahead of time — you only have to do this one time.
  • Identify an empty space in the Downtown area you wish to visit and park your car.
  • Upon exiting the vehicle, use your smartphone to take a photo of the parking space number and also a photo of the number on the side of the nearest pay machine.
  • Then start walking to your destination.
  • When you get a moment (don’t wait too long, perhaps while waiting at the nearest signal) pay for parking using the app. Follow the prompts as needed be; refer to the photos you just took for the space and zone numbers.
  • Bonus: You don’t have to worry about buying too much parking; you can always add more (up to the maximum hour limit for that zone) without returning to your vehicle.

The app was a great addition to Durham in 2017, and now for Raleigh in 2019. Kudos to our two cities for making parking — and thus downtown accessibility — a lot more easier and convenient.

Joe Milazzo II, PE 
RTA Executive Director

post reference: th3.2019.14

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