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Finding a parking space in the city: The Park Now app - how does it work in Bonn?

Finding a parking space in the city : The Park Now app - how does it work in Bonn?

With its new ‘Find & Park’ function, the Park Now app is designed to make it easier for Bonn residents to find a parking space in the city centre. We put it to the test.

If you are looking for a parking space at the side of the road in Bonn's city centre, the free app Park Now wants to help you with its new ‘Find & Park’ function. By marking the roads in tones of green, yellow and red, the aim is to show drivers where they have the best chance of finding a space. The company explains in a recent press release that the new function is now available in five cities in North Rhine-Westphalia, including Bonn.

Green street does not automatically mean free spaces

The test starts one afternoon. Ellerstraße is marked light green in the app, which means there is a “good chance” of finding a parking space. If it were dark green, there would even be a “very good chance”. But at the location we are disappointed. There is only one parking space free at the beginning of the road. The search then leads to the west of the city. In addition to many orange (“low chance”) and red (“difficult”) streets, a small section of Beethovenstraße is marked light green, however there are no spaces available there either. At the next road marked in light green, Venusbergweg behind Poppelsdorfer Schloss, a larger parking space is finally visible. The area west of Endenicher Straße/Viktoriabrücke (i.e. Nideggerstraße, Karlstraße, Karl-Frowein-Straße, Hein-Möller-Straße) is mostly displayed in light green, but some streets, such as Karl-Frowein-Straße, are completely full.

So how up-to-date is the app in reflecting the real parking situation in the individual streets? “Our information is not real-time information, but shows the probability of parking at the destination, so it could be that there are no parking spaces to be found there,” Vita Seyfarth, press spokesperson for Park Now, replied to the GA. However, if the road is marked dark green, it can be assumed that there is a very high probability of finding a parking space.

The company says it uses its own so-called Scan-Cars to determine the exact location of all parking spaces along a street. Other data is collected by taxis, for example, which have sensors attached to them. It may be that other vehicles “which are driving through the city anyway are equipped with a Park Now scanner”. The exact number of vehicles on the road for the company in Bonn cannot be disclosed for competition reasons. “But there are between a dozen and 100 vehicles, depending on the size of the city and the infrastructure,” advises Seyfarth.

Payment with the app is already available in Bonn. “For this, users can register free of charge on the Park Now app and store their payment method,” explains Seyfarth. With GPS release, the app can locate the user directly, or by inputting a zone, the driver can see in which parking zone they are currently located.

Multitude of apps on the market

But Park Now is one of many apps that show the parking options available in Bonn. Others include the BonnMobil app from Stadtwerke Bus und Bahn (see box below). Stefanie Zießnitz, deputy press spokesperson for SWB, explains that the app uses data from the city to display Park & Ride spaces, multi-storey car parks, Bonner City Parkraum GmbH and other parking spaces. With this data, the respective locations for parking spaces are displayed on the map. “This is not data about utilisation,” says Zießnitz. The primary interest of the app is not the parking space. “We are concerned with offering passengers fast connections to public transport.”

There are already many apps available for Bonn in digital stores. “Current providers that enable parking in Bonn by mobile phone, for example, are EasyPark, Park Now, Yellowbrick/flowbird, Mobilet, PayByPhone, Parkster, Parco and Presto-Parking,” Andrea Schulte from the city's press office informs us. “The providers can be found on the stickers on the parking ticket machines.”

Coloured markings a unique selling point

But with their coloured markings, Park Now seems to have a unique selling point. The apps Parkster and PayByPhone, for example, only show certain areas where paid parking is available. These apps do not provide information on capacity but do show the prices and times when payment is required. The Parco app is different. In addition to the usual prices, this app also displays the capacities for the majority of the parking options displayed.

A second attempt with the Park Now app in the Südstadt in the evening leads to quicker success. In addition to many red streets, there is admittedly only one space left in the light green Rittershausstraße. But there was a larger gap for several cars in the equally bright green Buschstraße.

(Original text: Thomas Leurs, Translation: Caroline Kusch)