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Hanover overhauls parking with new rates, fines and mobile app

  • The payment options for a parking meter on South Main St. are pictured in Hanover, N.H., on Wednesday, June 26, 2019. The town of Hanover has started using the ParkMobile program, which allows users to pay for parking with a mobile app, but all parking spaces still have at least one other option, including card and coins. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Becky and Steve Ricker, of Newport, Vt., get coins for the parking meter at the three-hour parking lot while going out for lunch in Hanover, N.H., on Wednesday, June 26, 2019. "This is the first time I've put money in a parking meter in four years," said Steve Ricker, explaining that there is no paid parking in the small town of Newport. "Who wants another app? I don't know," said Becky Ricker. Hanover has started using the ParkMobile program, which allows users to pay for parking in a mobile app. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • The new ParkMobile stickers mark every parking meter at the three-hour parking lot in Hanover, N.H., on Wednesday, June 26, 2019 after the town unofficially started using the program a few weeks ago. Hanover now has 554 parking spaces that have ParkMobile capability, which allows users to pay for parking on a mobile app. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Colm Seigne, right, tries downloading the ParkMobile app while Abigail Feyrer pays for her spot with coins at the three-hour parking lot in Hanover, N.H., on Wednesday, June 26, 2019. Seigne said he recently got a parking ticket and the officer suggested to him getting the app. "Now that they have it, I'll use it," he said. "I don't carry cash. It'll be nice to mobile pay." (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Correspondent
Sunday, June 30, 2019

HANOVER — New parking rates — and fines — go into effect on Monday as the town of Hanover tries to do more to encourage commuters to park in lots on the outskirts of downtown, freeing up more spaces for shoppers and other short-term visitors.

Hanover has also installed technology that lets motorists use a smartphone app to pay for a meter or extend time, within legal limits of the spot, and which promises down the road to help pinpoint open spaces.

Among the fee changes:

■On-street metered rates are in some cases doubling, so 40 minutes at a meter that used to cost 50 cents is now $1.

■Parking at 10-hour lots downtown will now cost $5 a day — or 50 cents an hour — up from 35 cents hourly, or $3.50 per day.

■Daily parking rates for the town parking garage, which is frequently full, are rising from $15 to $20. But monthly fees for a space in a peripheral lot remain at $35.

Meanwhile, some parking fines are also rising by $5, to $15 for an expired meter and to $25 for overtime meter feeding.

Although there has already been some noticeable grumbling on social media about the new rates, Town Manager Julia Griffin said the town last raised parking prices six years ago and that the changes are an “attempt to incentivize parking users to park in specific areas.”

A 48-page parking study commissioned by Hanover that was presented in March reported that “much of the Town’s public parking supply was found to be overutilized,” making it “very difficult, if not impossible” at times to find an on-street parking spot during the weekday.

But the study also found some availability in off-street lots, especially those intended for customers or workers of a particular merchant or other employer.

Griffin said the town wants to encourage longer-term parkers to park on the periphery of the town parking system, rather than feeding meters; to get Dartmouth College employees to park in their assigned on-campus parking; and to get commuters who work all day downtown to park in 10-hour meter spaces.

“We did this, in part, because increasingly we were seeing people feed meters all day in short-term parking spaces because they determined that a $10 parking ticket was easier than parking in slightly more remote areas that are designed for the all-day parker,” Griffin said via email.

Meanwhile, motorists are now able to pay for parking in several areas through an app on their smartphones.

The town has launched the ParkMobile app at a number of locations around Hanover, joining about 300 communities around the country that use the technology, including Burlington and Boston.

Hanover Police Chief Charlie Dennis said the Parking Enforcement Division began using the program a few weeks ago. It can now be used in 554 metered spaces and various municipal lots around town, Hanover said on its website.

The app allows users to pay for parking by entering a zone number posted on the nearest parking meters and selecting the amount of time needed for the space.

It also sends mobile alerts as the time limit nears. Griffin said the town did not have to pay anything for the app-based ParkMobile technology — no new meters were purchased — but that motorists who use ParkMobile pay a 35-cent transaction fee.

In many cities, the app also can be used to find and reserve an available space, but that feature is not currently available in Hanover.

Colm Seigne, who just graduated from Hanover High, was trying to download the app last week after he had recently gotten a parking ticket.

“Now that they have it, I’ll use it,” he said. “I don’t carry cash. It’ll be nice to mobile pay.”

Hanover will receive the net parking revenue from ParkMobile, and also expects to save in cash collection and handling costs as more people use the app. In addition, it will likely reduce the number of customers using credit cards to pay for parking, saving the town fees currently assessed by the credit companies for those transactions.

There are no lots or metered spaces in which ParkMobile is the only available option, so drivers still can pay with coins or a credit card if they choose.

The app also helps regulate “meter-feeding,” or re-activating an expired meter.

The town will allow ParkMobile users to remotely extend the time that they have a spot, but only within the limits of one parking cycle on that meter, Dennis said.

That means a motorist who parked at a three-hour meter at 9 a.m. and paid for two hours could add money remotely, via her app, before 11 a.m. if errands were keeping her in town for another hour, but could not remain in the space after noon.

“I think it’s a great program. It makes it convenient for our customers. You don’t have to pull your credit card out, you don’t have to pull your coins out,” Dennis said.

“What we heard from the many users who are already ParkMobile customers in other cities is that the overall convenience of ParkMobile far outweighs the transaction fee cost,” said Griffin, the town manager.

“We will certainly be assessing this over time but, to date, many users are psyched.”

Jim Rubens, who owns the Hanover Park building on Lebanon Street and previously served on a parking transportation board in Hanover, said he had recommended that the town switch to ParkMobile years ago.

“As a merchant in town, I would dearly love there to be free parking for all customers and all employees in town. But there’s not enough land to do it,” said Rubens, who said the current payment system means shoppers can get a ticket if they get to their car just a few minutes after their time expired.

“It’s really expensive for people who don’t do it precisely correctly. This approach will basically eliminate that problem,” Rubens said of the app. “Net, it is possible that a person will pay less to park in Hanover because they won’t get parking tickets if they use the application properly.”

Because of the limited battery life on Hanover’s current parking meters, there is one bug to the new system, Griffin said.

When motorists use the ParkMobile app to pay for parking, the digital display on the meter itself will not update to reflect that fact. Instead, when a parking enforcement officer runs the license plate for a vehicle parked at what otherwise appears to be an expired meter, Hanover’s parking software notifies the officer that the parking has been paid for, and no ticket would be issued, Griffin said.

But it appears that there are some human glitches to that Hanover plan.

Liz Essex, a daytime bartender and supervisor at Molly’s, said she received a $10 ticket on Thursday afternoon (the old fines still applied) and sent the Valley News both her ticket and ParkMobile confirmation that she had paid $3, plus the 35-cent transaction fee, to park for three hours.

“I went into the town office and the lady said she’s sorry, the attendants are so used to just reading meters that they have been double-ticketing people and I have to appeal it online!,” Essex said in a text message, which was followed by an emoji of an exploding head.

Griffin on Saturday said it will take a little time for parking officers to get the system down pat and said “just be patient as we get the kinks worked out.”

She also said Hanover eventually plans to replace its meter heads with technology that will include longer battery life, meaning they will ultimately display the time that has been paid for via ParkMobile and help app users find an open space as they drive into town.

“Ultimately we want to replace many of our single- and double-head meters with the newer version of solar pay stations which will accommodate more ParkMobile features including pinpointing open spaces,” Griffin said.

News staff writer John Gregg contributed to this report.