Video Journalism

MSU’s Parking Service Goes High Tech

Bozeman Campus Institutes New Pay by Cell App

Imagine you are running late to a class. You drive past all the parking lots closest to where your class is held and they are all full. You get to the farthest lot thinking you should be able to find a spot quickly, but there are none. Now you either end up being super late to class, or just not going at all.

Finding parking anywhere can be a challenge, and the Montana State University, Bozeman campus is no exception. With enrollment growing every year, now standing at almost 17,000 students, this problem is only getting worse.

Campus parking map

Currently students have the option to either pay for a parking pass or pay to park in the parking garage. Passes are $205 for a full year and $4 for an hour in the parking garage. The problem is, even if you purchase an annual pass you are not guaranteed a spot. More passes are being sold than there are spots which is big part of the problem.

Thankfully these problems have been heard and changes are coming.

According to MSU officials, new permit labels for each type of permit will be instituted this fall, as well as reduced rates of permit oversell. But the biggest change will be the new license plate recognition technology and a pay-by-cell parking app.

The license plate recognition technology will replace hang tags so there will be no more worry of switching tags if you are in a different vehicle. As long the vehicle you are using is registered in the system, you will not get ticketed.

The LPR (license plate reader) will “probably save us close to $20,000,” said Frank Parrish, Montana State University’s Chief of Police.

The pay-by-cell app will be available on mobile devices, and it will allow for users to check a campus parking map and see which spots are open. Furthermore, users will be able to pay for a day spot through the app.

In this video, Cassandra Behm talks about the new pay-by-cell app and license plate reader technology. By Jared Stordahl.

The MSU parking service held a public information session on April 11th, where Chief of Police Frank Parrish Jr. explained the new changes that will be implemented.

Along with the technological updates (the pay-by-cell app and license plate recognition technology) Parrish also discussed the new labels the lots will be getting. Say goodbye to the “SB” lot because it will now become the “Bison” lot. The lots are all to be named after animals indigenous to Montana.

“There are no more mixed lots which should eliminate some confusion,” said Cassandra Behm, MSU’s Customer Service Coordinator, who attended the event.

This video explains the new parking lot naming.

There is a WebX available for those who want to learn more about the changes.

Bozeman, a small city of 45,000 that is also experiencing record growth. It is the fastest growing “micropolitan” in the U.S. Parking in the downtown area has also become a huge issue.

The Montana State University parking service team will begin the updates in August 2019. With all the stress of college, parking is not something that students should have to worry about. As a MSU student myself, it is good to finally see action being taken to improve this problem.

A new parking lot doesn’t seem like an option, since existing available land has been used for the construction of a new residence hall. These updates sound like they could help for a while, but with enrollment getting larger every year who knows how long this temporary solution will last.

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