- Portland’s Bureau of Transportation, in a partnership with Portland State University and Portland Parks & Recreation, recently launched a mobile parking payment app called Parking Kitty.
- Parking Kitty users can pay for parking by entering the parking zone and their license plate number into the app. Users can also remotely extend parking time to the maximum allowed.
- The kitty is a nod to "money in the kitty," or a place to save money, and to Portland’s status as a cat-friendly town. The app also purrs when a user makes a payment and meows when there is only 15 minutes left on the meter.
While the concept of a mobile parking app is not new, the cat-inspired theme definitely helped draw attention to this particular app. Beyond being a cat-friendly city, The Seattle Times reported that Portland has the most cat ladies — a colloquial term to identify a single woman living alone with at least one cat — per capita in the U.S. By drawing on these quirks, Portland has found a way to create an app that is simple, functional and entirely unique to the city and its residents.
In addition to these cat-related quirks, Dylan Rivera, spokesman for Portland Bureau of Transportation, also said a lot of parking app names were already trademarked when they set out to name the app.
"That kind of additionally forced us to be unique," he told Smart Cities Dive. "Frankly we wanted to do something that would express the fun that Portlanders have."
The app lets users interact with three different city organizations — Portland’s Bureau of Transportation, Portland State University and Portland Parks & Recreation — in one app, which simplifies the parking process. There is a 10-cent surcharge per transaction that goes to Passport, the company behind the app development, and Portland hopes to eventually save a little money of their own at their 1,700 pay stations, which get over 40,000 transactions a day.
"The more people use the app, the less wear and tear we will have on our pay stations," Rivera said.