By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Sea Isle City is giving motorists simple, step-by-step instructions online to help them navigate the transition to an all-cashless parking payment system using a mobile app.
Police officers are also ready to help out motorists with the ParkMobile app.
Some drivers have struggled with the technology while trying to download the app, or they had to call the company’s customer service center for assistance in setting up an account.
“I think people are trying to get used to the new app. But overall, the complaints were down over the weekend. It seems to be working smoothly,” said Capt. Anthony Garreffi, officer in charge of the Sea Isle Police Department.
Garreffi said that motorists shouldn’t hesitate to ask a police officer if they need help downloading the app.
“If they have any questions, they can wave down any officer,” he said.
Some officers helped motorists with the app over the Memorial Day weekend. At least two motorists came to the police station over the holiday weekend to seek help in setting up ParkMobile accounts.
“Once my officers walked them through it, it worked fine,” Garreffi said.
Garreffi added that there were no technology glitches with the ParkMobile app that he knew of. He believes that any complaints about the parking system may have had more to do with “operator error” – namely, the motorists who struggled to download the app.
“We did call the company and everything seemed to be working fine,” he said.
Sea Isle has posted step-by-step instructions on the city’s tourism website at Parking | Sea Isle City (visitsicnj.com) to help the public download the app.
The city has also installed larger signs around town to explain how the app will work and how to set up an account. Motorists will also be able to simply scan the ParkMobile QR code for parking transactions.
Garreffi explained that the instructions are part of the city’s public education campaign to make an easy switch from the old parking kiosks and meters to the cashless system.
In Sea Isle, parking fees are in effect each year from May 15 to Labor Day, coinciding with the busy summer tourism season.
The city retired all of the parking kiosks this summer after introducing the ParkMobile system in 2021. Last summer, Sea Isle kept the kiosks and meters around for people who wanted to continue to pay the traditional way.
The ParkMobile app was immediately popular after it was introduced in 2021, handling about 80 percent to 85 percent of all the parking transactions in Sea Isle compared to just 15 percent to 20 percent for the kiosks and meters, the police department reported last year.
From the very beginning, Sea Isle has been touting the convenience of the app for motorists, especially if they want to avoid those frantic dashes from the beach, bars, restaurants or retail shops to add more money to the meters or kiosks to avoid getting a $30 parking ticket.
The app sends alerts to people when their parking is about to expire, so a user can simply extend the time right from their mobile devices.
There is another option for people who may not feel comfortable using the app. They may call a toll-free number listed on the ParkMobile signs to speak to the company’s customer service center and use their credit card to pay for parking over the phone.
Motorists may also call the customer service center for help in setting up an account, but there is a $10 charge for doing that, Garreffi said. He recommended that motorists should simply download the app to avoid getting charged a service fee for setting up an account.
“We highly recommend using the app,” he said.
The app can be downloaded on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, or by visiting the ParkMobile website at https://parkmobile.io. The app is available for both iPhone and Android devices.
From a financial standpoint, Sea Isle will benefit from having just the app parking available because the city will not have to pay the cost of maintaining the electronic kiosks each year. The shore’s salt air takes a toll on the machinery, Garreffi noted.
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.