Cheap Parking in Philly? There’s an App for That

The ‘Airbnb of parking spots’ just announced an expansion to Philadelphia.

The Spot parking app is coming to Philly.

The Spot parking app is coming to Philly.

Picture this. You’re driving around Center City looking for a parking space. Forget about finding a free one, that’s just not going to happen. So you look for a metered spot. No luck. After 15 minutes of circling the block, you give up and park in a garage or lot.

When you exit the lot, you pass a private parking lot that’s empty. Why couldn’t I have just parked there? Soon, you’ll be able to with Spot.

Spot allows people to rent out private parking spots via a mobile app. It works much like Airbnb — the service that’s changing the way people travel by allowing customers to rent private homes or rooms rather than staying in hotels. Parking spot owners set the price and the amount of time that a driver can rent a spot. Founder and CEO Braden Golub said that it’s typically 40 percent to 60 percent cheaper than parking in a lot. Spots can be rented by the hour, day, week or month.

The service launched in Boston nine months ago and will soon expand to Philadelphia, as well as Chicago, Miami, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Golub said he hopes to launch in Philly by the end of the year after getting a stable of “a few hundred” parking spaces.

“I know how difficult it is to park in Philadelphia,” said Golub, who says he travels here a few times per year to see friends. “It’s similar to Boston, where it’s obvious that parking in the central business district is a real pain.”

The startup has raised a little under $1 million so far.

The app also features ways for the parker and spot owner to communicate in case any issues come up (like a parker staying in their spot too long.)

There is some competition in Philly. The ParkMe app allows users to search for paid parking near their exact location and tells them how much they should expect to pay before they arrive. It also allows people to reserve spots in lots or garages.

Councilman Bill Greenlee has previously come out against apps like MonkeyParking that allow people to auction off public parking spaces. But the idea of renting private parking spaces is certainly something new. Golub estimates that Philly has 25,000 private parking spots within the city limits.

“There’s a great deal of opportunity to create efficiency within this market,” he said. “It just made sense to extend it to a place like Philly.”

Follow @JaredShelly on Twitter. Jared is the editor of Philadelphia magazine’s launching-soon business blog, @BizPhilly.