A problem with the new Passport parking system


I’ve enjoyed, for the most part, using the city’s new Passport parking app. I haven’t minded — much — paying that 35-cent-a-session fee for the convenience.

And of course, the most convenient thing about it is that wherever you are, you can extend your parking session — by 15, 30, 45 minutes, an hour or more. No more excusing yourself from a meeting and running a block to plug in more quarters.history

But here’s the thing I don’t like: If you miss the end of your session by so much as a split second, you can’t extend the session. And worse, you can’t start a new one!

And I see absolutely no reason for this. If I were doing it the 20th century way, no one would stop me from going down and plugging another quarter in. So why should this new technology, which has no reason to be, be even less convenient in that regard than the old way?

This problem doesn’t arise if the app works as advertised. It’s supposed to give a two-minute warning before the session runs out — plenty of time to tap in an extension. But in my experience, that warning comes only about half the time.

Here’s what happened to me today, as evidenced by the ticket above and the screenshots at right…

I started a one-hour session on Assembly Street at 9:01 a.m., and went up for my breakfast. (Oh, for the troll out there who always acts SHOCKED at the hour at which I start my day, see what happens to your body clock after decades of working at a morning newspaper. I start my day later than average, and work on later than most in the evening. As I did all those years at the paper.)

Anyway, I had just started reading another item on my iPad (I read three newspapers at breakfast, plus other stuff brought to my attention via social media) when it occurred to me that my session must be almost up. As it happened, I checked precisely at 10:01, and it said my session had just expired. So I immediately tried to start another session — just 15 minutes — to give me enough time to get to my vehicle (and then some).denied

I got the rejection you see at right (click to make it bigger). As I expected. I shrugged, knowing I was already in violation (but a bit peeved that I was being prevented from addressing that), finished reading what I was reading, and headed down to my truck. I got there at 10:12. The ticket on my windshield had been written at 10:06 — five minutes after my good-faith effort to extend my session by 15 minutes.

Yep, I courted that ticket by reading for another few moments before heading down. If I had not, I probably would have arrived at the moment the meter maid was printing out the ticket.

So no foul. Late is late, and them’s the rules of the game.

But isn’t the point of the Passport app to allow people to do what I was more than willing to do — pay more for a few minutes more, just as I would be allowed to do were I standing at the meter with coins or Smart Card in hand? (And remember, I was NOT trying to exceed the meter’s two-hour limit — I would have been 45 minutes short of that.)

This seems a flaw in the system to me. And I see no good reason for it. Do you?

I’ve got no beef with paying this fine — despite the failure of the warning that was supposed to sound and let me know I was nearing the end of my session. But I do think this “lockout” feature, which seems a matter of policy, should be changed.

10 thoughts on “A problem with the new Passport parking system

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    To learn more about city policy on this, I put in a call to John Spade — and was surprised to learn that he had just retired as head of the city’s parking division, as of June 30.

    So I called him at home, and he was kind enough to call me back a few moments ago.

    He said this shouldn’t have happened. As long as I was at a two-hour-limit meter — and I was — I should have been allowed to start another session.

    Ha! Vindication!

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                Aw, come on! I’ve got a great case — right up to where I got disgusted and kept reading when it wouldn’t let me start a new session.

                But even if I had immediately headed down to my truck, I might not have made it before getting the ticket.

                I’m thinking what I might do is go ahead and pay, but alert them to the problem…

                I am SUCH a model citizen!

              2. Brad Warthen Post author


                I went ahead and represented myself, and despite having a fool for a client, I managed to get him off!

                I went in ready to pay, but I wanted them to know about the problem. I simply went to the parking division offices, told my story as I told it above and submitted the second of the two screenshots above as evidence, the lady behind the counter went to talk briefly with someone in another room (not John Spade, because he’s retired, and when she came back, I was off the hook. No ticket!

                Some of us have it and some of us don’t. Fortunately, I have so much of it… 🙂

  2. Toni

    This app is useless! I got the same message “ parking denied “, no clue what this meant as it was the first time I used it. I ran out to my car, the meter person was checking out my car and proceeded to write the ticket while talking to me. My meter ran out at 10:18, time of ticket 10:22. I said thanks and was very polite, not idea how I would be treated if I protested.


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