City

The PPA Just Screwed Us All Again With MeterUp Parking App Relaunch

Features include “convenience” fees and hourly parking rates that can actually increase depending on how long you park.

Screenshots from the new Philly parking app MeterUp.

Big news out of the Philadelphia Parking Authority this week. No, not the rumors that the FBI is investigating the much-loathed agency. We’re talking about the news that the PPA has rolled out a new Philly parking app.

But wait: Wasn’t there already a Philly parking app?

Yes, two, actually.

In 2015, there was the terrible Philly parking app ParkSnap, which did absolutely nothing that you needed it to do.

Then came MeterUp, which the PPA said would solve all of our problems. It was pretty good and had about 20,000 users, but MeterUp went belly up earlier this year, a collapse the PPA blamed on financial problems at the service provider behind MeterUp.

Well, on Monday, the PPA announced another Philly Parking app. This is a new version of MeterUp — backed by a new service provider — and it is live in Center City.

Here’s how the new MeterUp works: You download the app and sign up for an account, entering your car’s license plate number (you can have multiple cars under one account) and a payment method, with options including credit cards, debit cards, and PayPal. (Sorry, BitCoin users.)

When you pull into a spot, MeterUp will figure out what zone is closest to you, assuming you have your location services turned on. If you don’t, the zone number is also on the nearest kiosk, and you can type it into the app. Then you choose the parking duration and submit payment.

It is at this point that you will notice that you’re being charged a 40-cent “convenience fee” for the transaction. Now, if you’re the type of person who doesn’t blink when paying a $3 convenience fee at an ATM just for taking $20 of your own money out of your bank account, this 40-cent surcharge might not bother you that much. But if you’re like the rest of us, you’ll hate it. And if you’re parking for a very short amount of time, the convenience fee might actually be more than the parking fee, which might just send the principled cheapskates among you into apoplexy.

And if you decide you need to add time to your meter — this is, really, the main convenience of the app — you’ll be charged another 40 cents each time you do that. New York doesn’t charge any convenience fees for use of its parking app. Chicago does, but only for small transactions. Park for two or more hours there, and the convenience fee is waived. In Philly, it’s You wanna park? You pay!

But the really important thing that you need to know about this new Philly parking app is that the rates for parking can increase depending on how long you park.

Let’s say you pay $4 to park for two hours in a spot where the time limit is two hours, as noted on the signs on either end of the parking zone. If you decide you need more time once you exceed that limit, the parking rate actually doubles for the next two hours. And if you need to stay even longer, the parking rate will triple for the third two-hour block. (Granted, you’re not supposed to exceed the stated limits, but we’ve done so literally scores of times using the kiosks and have never gotten a ticket for it, assuming we’re paid up.)

If you haven’t been scared off, you can download MeterUp here.

Ed. Note: This story was updated to reflect new information provided by the PPA.