Good Question: Are you paying extra to park in downtown Rochester?

Pat Taney
Created: November 04, 2019 12:47 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Last spring, new parking meters were installed in parts of downtown Rochester. They allow you to pay for parking through a mobile app, but some of you had questions about the fees associated with using it.

Pat Taney was asked to look into it for this week's Good Question report.


The meters are all about convenience, allowing you to pay through an app before leaving your car.

A convenience, Sharon Niedermaier, would rather avoid.

"I pay the old fashioned way with real money," she said.

Since she pays with cash, the charge is clearly marked on the meters.

"It says $2 an hour."

But what you don't see on the meters is an added fee for using the mobile app. You won't see it until you open up your app and process your payment. The charge is $0.35 in Rochester.

So why the fee and where does the money that's collected go?

We reached out to city officials for the answer who say the convenience fees do not go to City Hall. The fees go to the company behind the parking app called Passport Parking.

The fees help them keep the app running. The company is behind similar apps in other cities where prices vary from town to town. 

The fee is $0.15  in Salem, Mass. and $0.50 in Cambridge, Mass.

We asked how the prices are set and why the disparity in cities, but the company did not respond.

If you pay with credit or cash, there's no fee. It's only charged on the app, which is exactly why Niedermaier won't be downloading it.

"If I have an app that's going to make me pay more for something, then that's not happening," she said.

Others don't mind the fee and like the convenience of paying on their phone without leaving their car. The app also allows you to extend your parking time without having to go back out to the meter.

The convenience fee is only charged for the initial transaction — not when you add time.

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