Portland’s feed-the-meter mobile app debuted Thursday, and it’s cat themed.
For a 10-cent fee, Parking Kitty allows drivers to pay for street parking on their smartphone, without the walk to a kiosk or a paper slip. Drivers can also add more time remotely, up to the time limit of the block where they parked.
The curious branding is meant evoke “kitty” as in a fund of money, said Portland Bureau of Transportation spokesman Dylan Rivera.
“We worked really hard to make it convenient and memorable for people in Portland to use,” Rivera said, adding, “Portlanders are really into cats.”
(There is some evidence to support this. The Seattle Times reported in 2015 that Portland had the most cat ladies — which the newspaper defined as single women who live alone with at least one cat — per capita in the United States. Seattle itself came in second.)
The feline motif goes beyond the name. The app purrs when a user pays for parking, and a 15-minute warning that parking time is about to run out arrives with a “meow.”
The app is available in Apple’s App Store and Android’s Google Play. A mobile web version is available at parkingkitty.ppprk.com.
Parkers can still pay with coins or credit cards at the pay kiosks on every city block. The city removed its last single-space, coin-operated parking meter last year.
Here’s how the app works:
After pulling into a spot, sign into the app with a four-digit PIN, then enter a four-digit zone number posted on the side of the parking payment kiosks.
Enter or select the auto’s license plate number. Several different vehicles can be stored in the app.
Select the length of stay in 15-minute increments.
Enter credit card details, or select a stored credit card. (The app doesn’t have a pre-pay option.)
Confirm the details of the transaction and be on your way. A receipt is sent by email.
Drivers can also pay to extend their stay remotely through the app — as long as they don’t overstay the time limit of the zone where they’re parked. The extension comes without incurring another 10-cent fee.
Parking enforcement officers will first look for a payment slip on the window. But if they don’t see it, they’ll now run the license plate to see if a payment has been made online.
The new payment option comes at little upfront cost to the city. Passport Inc., a Delaware company contracted to develop and administer the app, receives the 10-cent-per-parking session convenience fee. The city is spending only “a few thousand bucks” from its parking operations budget to promote the app, Rivera said.