Free ParkChicago app to pay for parking and extend by phone

A new smartphone app that allows you to pay for parking and avoid overstay by adding time to the meter from a distance is now being trialled in Chicago. The new app is called ParkChicago and manufactured by PassportParking. The pilot program started this week and will last for a 3 weeks total, covering 279 parking spots. Enough time for both PassportParking and Chicago Parking Meters, who leases the parking meters in Chicago, to gather enough feedback before expanding the program.

ParkChicago is a free app, but if you use it for parking under 2 hours you’re charged a so-called ‘convenience fee’ of 35 cents. This money is then used by the app operators to pay for credit card transaction fees. The remaining money  goes to Chicago Parking Meters to cover other expenses like the costs for the call center, labour, and street signs to alert the drivers about the app. Chicago Parking Meters is also responsible for the maintenance of the meters. The city gets the ticket revenues. If you park for over 2 hours, there’s no fee charged.

How does it work?

First, see if the parking space is available for the ParkChicago app. You can recognise these spots by the ParkChicago logo displayed above the spot. Before you can use the app you’ll have to sign up at After you parked your car, you enter your credit card number, license plate number and the right zone number. These numbers are communicated via street signs. The ParkChicago app saves your information for the next time you want to use the app. When there’s only 10 minutes left on the meter, you receive a message, in which you also get the option to pay more in case you don’t want to go back to your car. Parking enforcement officers can scan the license plate to see if the spot is paid for or not.

The advantage of this pay-by-phone parking app, is that you can extend your stay from wherever you are, reducing the chance of getting a ticket. If you’re in the middle of a meeting for example, or if you just don’t want to go back to your car yet, you can easily choose to feed the meter from wherever you are without having to walk back to your car. You don’t have to remember how much time you put on the meter since the app sends you a reminder when there’s only 10 minutes left and it’s an easy, safe and convenient way to pay for parking. Of course drivers also still have the option to pay at the meter and display the ticket.

You can read the original article from the SunTimes at