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Pain-free parking apps give you one less thing to whine about

Amber Bouman | Aug. 22, 2013
If a free app can save you from getting a parking ticket, or wasting gas while hunting for a space, you better believe it's worth a download.

ParkMe—iOS, Android (Free)
Pull up ParkMe to find open spaces in nearby public lots and open metered spaces on city streets. The app generously covers more than 500 cities around the world, so it's likely worth the download if you're living anywhere near Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Seattle, Austin, Miami, New Orleans, Phoenix, Chicago, Atlanta, Denver, Philly, Boston, or any of 487 other cities.

ParkMe not only shows you public spots, but also overlays fee information right on the map, so you know which spot is closest—and which is cheapest. It does the same thing for metered spaces on city streets, which are indicated with a square pop-up bubble (as opposed to the traditional round bubbles used for the lots). The results are even color-coded to show how easy it is to park in that location, with green being available, orange being partially occupied (and percentage below a parking lot's result lets you know just how full it is at the moment), and red being unavailable.

Results for street parking provide details on the location, times, and fees involved, and results for public lots contain additional details on rates, special pricing, hours of operation, payment options, and a phone number (if available). You can also share a result via SMS, email, or Twitter; copy the address; or open it in the Maps app.

While you can't pay for your parking in-app, ParkMe does offer up other features such as allowing you to find parking results for a car, motorcycle, or oversized vehicle, choosing a preference between closer or cheaper parking, a parking timer feature to let you know when your time is up, and a Mark My Car feature to remind you exactly where you've parked. You can also filter the results to exclude lots or street parking and customize the duration of time you need parking for. It gets bonus points for showing results all over a city—not just in heavily populated downtown areas.

SFPark—iOS, Android (Free)
SFPark is noteworthy because it's the first of its kind—developed by the Department of Transportation's Urban Partnership Program and established by the San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority, SFPark is a parking management system that covers 7,000 metered spaces and 12,250 spots in city-owned parking garages. It uses parking sensors installed in each space to provide real-time data about occupancy levels at garages and at metered spots on the city streets.

So far, the program has covered eight pilot areas in the city: the Marina, Fisherman's Wharf, the Fillmore, the Financial District, Civic Center, Hayes Valley, South of Market, and the Mission—all areas that are severely impacted by parking shortages.


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