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City of Bend plans to add new app, system to help drivers find open parking spots downtown

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- “There’s a lot of circular traffic from people circling around the block to find an available parking space," City of Bend Parking Services Division Manager Tobias Marx said Wednesday.

Driving in downtown Bend can create some anxiety for drivers, as many are stuck having to loop around several times, in search of a parking spot. But that may be much easier soon, because, to use an old phrase, "there's an app for that."

To make downtown parking easier, city councilors were asked on Wednesday night's consent agenda to approve an amendment to the city's agreement with a private firm for the city-wide parking operations system.

"It will actually improve the parking experience for people that want to go downtown," Marx said.

The system will monitor how many cars are parked during the day in downtown garages, surface lots, and street parking. 

“Nothing changes for you -- you just park the way that you did before," Marx said. "But what it does for us is, we will know when you park. Let’s say you park on Bond Street. There’s a digital sign on a street pole, and that number will change. So it will show available parking on that block at any time.”

You can even find available spots even before you leave your home, using the app. 

“And then you can actually click on the navigation button, and it will guide you to that available parking space," Marx said.

The app will update you if a spot is taken before you arrive.

The system would be installed in the core downtown area between NW Greenwood Avenue, Franklin Avenue and Lava Road.

Back in 2020, the council approved an agreement with Passport Labs, Inc. to have a parking operation system. It includes a platform for permit and citation management, as well as mobile payments. The planned new feature is an automated guided parking system that will allow drivers to see parking availability in real-time. Passport Labs, Inc. would work with the technology vendor Cleverciti for the upgrade.

“It will reduce traffic, it will reduce congestion, and have a positive impact on our carbon reduction goals and reduce emissions that way," Marx said.

The parking system costs nearly $500,000 for the equipment, software and services. The expense would be covered entirely by the city's Parking Services Fund.

"The system will use above-ground sensors to measure cars parked in real time and communicate available parking spaces to drivers via integration into mobile apps and dynamic digital signage," an issue summary on Wednesday's consent agenda states (see below).

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Bola Gbadebo

Bola Gbadebo is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Bola here.


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