Beginning Monday, Dec. 10, and running through Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, first-time users of the City's PayByPhone app will be able to park for free with their first use of the app.
The City introduced the pay-for-parking app for smart phones two years ago as an option for those visiting Bellingham's downtown to make it easier to pay for and manage parking. Drivers can pay for parking without needing a pocketful of change. In addition, the app sends a reminder when time is expiring on a driver's parking meter and provides options to add more time.
Last year, the service was updated to recognize drivers' licenses plates, rather than parking stall number, to improve convenience.
Drivers have responded. The PayByPhone app averages more than 17,000 transactions per month. And as app usage has increased, the number of citations for overtime meters has decreased.
To receive free parking with first use of the payment app, drivers who do not already have the PayByPhone app need to download it, register an account and enter payment and license plate information.
Cost to park at meters is 75-cents per hour for two hours, plus a 25-cent transaction fee with the app, with some rates increasing after two consecutive hours. The Commercial Street garage – centrally located downtown – includes paid hourly parking on the ground floor and another 325 parking spaces that are free after 5 p.m. weekdays and all day on Saturdays and Sundays. The garage is monitored via security cameras 24 hours per day.