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Campus parking meters replaced by mobile pay

Cameron Shaw
A new ParkMobile parking sign located on Normal Street, across from the Mahurin Honors College, on Monday.

Editor’s note: This story was updated on Monday, July 1 and Tuesday, July 2 to include additional information from Jennifer Tougas and Ginny Griffin.

Campus parking meters have been removed and are now replaced with a mobile payment system, WKU Parking and Transportation Services (PTS) announced last week.

All single and multi-space campus parking meters were removed Friday, PTS said in an email on Wednesday. In their place, signs with QR codes will direct customers to ParkMobile, an app that allows users to keep track of their parking spot and make payments as necessary.

Parking rates are now $2 per hour (50 cents for 15 minutes) with an additional 45 cents ParkMobile fee, PTS said.

Ginny Griffin, the director of PTS, told the Herald on Tuesday that because credit card companies charge a fee every time a card is used, the service fee is also charged with every transaction.

“In 2023 there were approximately 26,700 meter transactions,” Griffin said. “If that number holds in 2024, ParkMobile will net around $12,000.”

Griffin said that WKU has to pay some additional fees for this reservation service, but “on-demand transactions are covered by the service fee.” There will be no expected increase in revenue by switching to ParkMobile, Griffin said, but there will be cost-savings through the reduction in operating expenses of physical meters.

Griffin said the switch to ParkMobile was primarily driven by the age of the previous meters and the cost of repairing them

“You may have noticed that a lot of the meters were failing with burnt out screens and dying solar panels,” Ginny Griffin, the director of PTS, told the Herald on Tuesday. “Replacing a single space meter head costs more than $300 each, and multi-space meters cost around $3,000 each. This cost would need to be recuperated through increased meter fees.”

The new mobile system simplifies WKU’s parking operations, Jennifer Tougas, WKU assistant vice president for business services, told the Herald on Monday.

“We have less sources to reconcile revenue, less equipment to maintain in the field (which frees up time for other things), and less sources to validate parking for enforcement,” Tougas said. “This is actually a wonderful step forward for the department.”

Tougas said ParkMobile is not new to the university. The system has been in use for about four years now, but it was originally purposed to offer reserved parking (pay first, then park) and more recently for on-demand parking (park first, then pay).

The university originally used mechanical meters that required coins as payment before switching to “smart meters” that added credit cards as a payment method and could detect the presence of a vehicle in time-controlled spaces.

“Then, along came COVID and the push towards ‘contactless payment,’” Tougas said. “As mobile pay has grown and coin use has declined, we were able to replace our physical parking meters with ParkMobile’s App based mobile payment platform. That makes it very convenient for our customers, particularly when it’s raining!”

There are four ways to pay with ParkMobile:

  • Use the ParkMobile app.
  • Go to the ParkMobile website.
  • Text “PARK” to 77223.
  • Use the Google Pay app.

To use the app, customers can either create an account or sign in as a guest user. PTS encourages users to create an account because “it will be easier to pay the next time you use the app.”

If a user wants to search for a parking spot on campus without spending time physically searching for an open space, the app has a feature to locate available spaces, PTS said.

Once the parking session begins, users can opt-in to receive reminders before their session expires to either make an additional payment or leave.

Questions regarding campus parking should be addressed to PTS at 270-745-2361 or [email protected].

News reporter Cameron Shaw can be reached at [email protected].



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