By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Few things may be more annoying than having to interrupt a perfectly relaxing summer beach day to run back to plug the parking meter or kiosk with more money to avoid getting a ticket.
Making the experience all the more frustrating is having to fumble for enough cash or loose coins to pay for extra time for the parking space.
But starting this summer, Sea Isle City is introducing a mobile parking app to help motorists avoid all those hassles.
“It’s all about trying to make things more convenient,” Police Chief Tom McQuillen said in an interview Tuesday.
Sea Isle will become the next Jersey Shore town to roll out the increasingly popular ParkMobile app, which allows motorists to pay for parking using their smartphone or other mobile devices.
The city plans to launch a publicity and social media campaign to explain how the app will work and how to set up an account. McQuillen is predicting it will be a “seamless transition” going from the old-fashioned way of parking to the new app.
Sea Isle will still have the parking meters and kiosks available this summer for people who want to pay the traditional way. McQuillen explained that the city plans to eventually replace the meters and kiosks with the parking app.
“This is what we anticipate being the first step of eventually moving away from the kiosks,” he said of the app’s introduction this summer. “The idea is to get onto the app.”
The city will also benefit from the app by eventually not having to pay the cost of maintaining the electronic parking kiosks each year. The shore’s salt air takes a toll on the machinery, McQuillen noted.
But mainly, McQuillen is touting the convenience of the app for motorists, especially if they want to avoid those frantic dashes from the beach to add more money to the meters or kiosks.
“If they’re sitting on the beach and want to stay another hour, they can go into the app and then they’re good to go,” he said.
He added, “It’s a convenience we think the public will enjoy.”
The app will send alerts to people when their parking is about to expire, so a user can simply extend the time right from their mobile devices.
An extra benefit of the app is that motorists will no longer have to worry about touching the meters or the kiosk keypads to pay for parking during the COVID-19 pandemic. The only thing they’ll touch is their own phone or mobile device.
“That’s one of the advantages, not touching a machine,” McQuillen said.
Sea Isle charges for parking from May 15 to Labor Day during the bustling summer tourism season. The city’s publicity campaign for the parking app will be unveiled before then.
To pay for parking using the app, a user simply enters the zone number posted on the stickers or signs around the meter or kiosk, chooses the duration of time they wish to park and touches the “Start Parking” button, according to the ParkMobile website.
ParkMobile is a free app available for both iPhone and Android devices. Sea Isle’s City Council has approved an agreement allowing ParkMobile to include a user fee of 30 cents for each transaction on the app.
The app can be downloaded on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, or by visiting the ParkMobile website at https://parkmobile.io.