Israeli parking app Pango launches in US

Pango enables drivers to reserve a parking spot in the facility where they will be spending their evening and have their car paid for and prepared by valet at the end of the night.

February 27, 2013 23:18
3 minute read.
TRAFFIC SPEEDING by the New York Times building

TRAFFIC SPEEDING by the New York Times building 370. (photo credit: Reuters)

NEW YORK – In the largest market for passenger vehicles in the world, the economics of parking for American cities is often lose-lose.

The purchasing cost of a lot, the construction of a garage, and the upkeep of facilities and services are all significant burdens for cities where public officials are often reluctant to price parking to match the extraordinary demand of its drivers. Local governments often fear that the more parking they provide, the more they’ll encourage people to drive, only increasing demand.

But one company is looking to change that gridlocked dynamic by incentivizing drivers to pay with the promise of a spot with easy access and entry. With the same amount of effort required to look up Yelp reviews of a restaurant or the average Rotten Tomatoes rating for a movie, consumers will now be able to use Pango, a smartphone-based app created in Israel, to reserve a parking spot in the facility where they will be spending their evening, and have their car paid for and prepared by valet at the end of the night.

The MobyDom, Ltd. app tells consumers where spots are available and how much they’ll be paying for parking that evening, a transaction that can be completed through the app.

And the app enables services in surrounding facilities to offer vouchers or discounts to customers for their business.

It’s hard to avoid Pango in Tel Aviv, where the meter signs are everywhere.

A whopping 89 percent of parking payments in all of Israel are made through the app, which first started operating in 2006. Now operating in 47 cities throughout Israel and eastern Europe, Pango is entering the US market with confidence from its past successes, starting in Phoenix, Arizona, Baltimore County and New York City.

“We’re helping cities with capacity management,” Neil Edwards, president of PangoUSA, told The Jerusalem Post. “Cities can get bad reputations from ticketing revenue. Pango presents a much softer side to traffic enforcement, and makes parking more business friendly, which is really important when you’re talking about urban redevelopment.” In addition to reducing costs for cities, Pango hopes to do for parking what apps like Uber are doing for taxi services: provide a value-added app to commuters that justifies cost with the luxury of ease.

“People coming in [to New York] to go to the theater from New Jersey take advantage of discount rates.

They shop for parking just like they shop for discount rooms,” said Bill Lerner, president of Imperial Parking Systems, New York City’s largest garage operator and the city’s first adoptee of Pango. “Most people, when they come into the city, already know where they’re going to park.”

Lerner expects to increase his topline numbers and the amount of traffic he sees in Imperial’s 110 garages while decreasing the “human factor” currently required of his employees, shaking up a business model that has been effectively stagnant for over 50 years.

“When you break down barriers to entry in any transaction, revenues grow,” says Jeff Moloznik, general manager of the CityScape complex in Arizona that houses over 50 retailers and a five-star hotel. “And the ability for our retailers to interact directly with consumers is going to prove really valuable.”

But the true value of a service like Pango will only come with ubiquity, and recognizing this, PangoUSA is looking beyond retail structures, working on partnerships with hospitals and local governments to provide street-side parking as well.

Phoenix’s Mayor Greg Stanton called Pango a perfect example of how “innovation is creating a great urban core.”

“If you’re a doctor at hospital on Lexington and 77th street, you can literally push the get-my-car button on Pango and its ready when you are,” said Edwards. “That changes the dynamic of parking, which has traditionally been passive in our cities.”

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