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Innovation & Startups

99 problems but a parking spot ain't one

Finding parking before Pirates games may seem to require as much luck and skill as winning the game itself, but Parking Panda can help, according to spokesman Bryan Lozano.

Lozano said the company, which recently expanded into Pittsburgh, uses aggregated data from different parking garages across the city to allow users to find the most convenient and cheapest parking spots. The company also allows drivers to reserve guaranteed spaces before Pirates games, so you can roll up to the game as late or as early as you want without fear. "We are trying to make the experience seamless," Lozano said, "one of our tag lines is we want to make parking painless and that’s because it’s a pain."

As far as parking goes, in Pittsburgh we have it pretty good comparatively. In some cities, on street parking is so hard to find that an app called MonkeyParking allows drivers to sell public spots to each other! Thankfully we haven't reached that level (barring outrageous meter rates), but it would be nice if Parking Panda worked with the city or Google Maps (or a wizard?) to show drivers daily and monthly street parking regulations. Currently, the service only works with garages, but you can try your luck with street parking, then if you don't see any, you can use Parking Panda's iPhone or Android app to find the best deal in your area. "If a garage is sold out it will say that on the website, so you don't have to drive around in circles," Lozano said.

The service is also available in other cities including parking nightmare Philly and nearby cities like Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati, so do your research before you drive into a downtown death trap aka Philly! "The hardest part is the behavioral change—getting people to realize this is even an option," Lozano said, "parking is often the last thing you do and many people don't put much thought into it until they can't find a spot." Don't be that person!

Lozano said that since Parking Panda allows garages to see the prices of competitors and reach out directly to customers, it may lead to more competitive garage pricing. "I think it’s also about pushing cities to examine how they do their parking," Lozano said.

But, if you are a neophyte or don't want to reserve a spot with Parking Panda, there's always the good ole Pittsburgh parking chair.
 
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