2014 is coming to a close, and while we’d like to pretend like we’re above writing the “Best of…” and “Things that happened in…” blogs, fact of that matter is we’re as cliche as everyone else with time to spare and a Wifi connection.
This past year was a crazy year for tech, especially those in the business of transportation. Here in our hometown of Boston we saw Uber and Lyft become household names (even to those over the age of 25), we saw Bridj make taking the bus pleasant and peaceful rather than crowded and smelly, and of course for those of you, like us, who still love to drive, there was no shortage of parking apps that joined the conversation. Some ruffled feathers, some debuted new features and some simply took an age-old idea and repackaged it for the digital age. Here’s what 2014 showed us about how owning a smartphone could change how you park your car.:
Haystack is the obvious place to start when talking parking apps here in Boston. Similar to an app called Monkey Parking which launched in San Francisco, Haystack allowed users to auction off their metered spots to driver’s circling around the block waiting for one to free up. Haystack broke onto the scene with a flurry of press, social content and a gigantic, but certainly memorable launch party. They even gave away a car in the process of generating buzz.
Immediately after they launched there was a lot of talk that Haystack was the next “it” company but shortly thereafter, the city chastised Haystack for it’s use of public property to turn a private profit. There was a public argument about whether Haystack was selling information or if they were selling public property and while just about everyone took a side and chimed in, Mayor Walsh and the city council eventually navigated claims that they were anti-innovation (Walsh ran on a platform of making Boston an innovation capital for Pete’s sake!) and banned Haystack’s operation in August, opening the door for other new parking apps to take their crack at become the one that catches on.
Since the demise of the street parking app, a flurry of us have risen to the challenge of making parking easier for urbanites. Since we live in and love Boston so much we’ll keep the list to just those around here:
SpotHero is an app that was originally born in Chicago but is now available in Boston and several other cities. They aggregate data from major garages and tell you who has available spaces and occasionally offers you a discount.
2014’s Big News: SpotHero has been growing the past few years and is now available in a dozen cities including Boston and San Francisco.
Veer, which is similar to SpotHero in their approach. Some of their differentiating features include a slick dynamic pricing search feature showing you the best value you for where you want to be.
2014’s Big News: They launched just a few short weeks ago, based out of Boston and headed by 2 very talented fellows. We’ll have to wait and see how 2015 fares for the young app.
SpotLight Parking is an on-demand valet parking app that is based in Boston. SpotLight shows a fair amount of promise if you consider the success similar apps, Luxe and Zirx are having on the west coast. 2015 looks promising for the fledgling East Coast valet app.
2014’s Big News: Successfully completed their beta period and announced a publically available version of the app would be ready by January.
Parker launched in 2013 here in Boston through a partnership with the city, installing sensors to alert drivers when metered spots became available. Allegedly not all that accurate at it’s inception, Parker has been refined in 2014 to be one of the more helpful apps to find available parking, albeit, short-term, metered, parking.
2014’s Big News: Now available in several other cities Parker also incorporated mobile payments this past year.
Lastly there’s lil’ ol’ us here at SPOT. Granted I’ve got more to say about us than others, but I never really hinted at this being completely objective did I?
We’re not fancy enough to valet your car for you, we won’t tell you to go park on the 9th floor of some garage, and we certainly aren’t going around the city drilling into the concrete to install sensors that’ll work some sort of parking magic (I never got my Hogwarts letter so my knowledge of magic is limited). What we do is a little bit different from everyone else, because we pay YOU. All of our SPOTs are listed for rent by regular people like you and I, who have a space at their condo, apartment, or business. This allow others to park there when you aren’t. Our SPOTs are cheaper than garages and more readily available than meters. By not restricting ourselves to any particular establishment that provides parking SPOTs, our growth is as big or small as our users can make it. We have faith that SPOTers will continue helping us grow and close to 10,000 (and counting) people seem to be agreeing with us, thus far.
SPOT provides an airbnb-style marketplace for users to be able to find parking wherever they’re going in Boston, and to be making money off their own SPOT while they’re away from home, a true Win-Win.
2014’s Big News: We launched, completed our beta, locked up a round of funding, added hundreds of SPOTs to our platform. Oh and for those of you who count style points, we got this slick new Black and Electric Mint Green makeover you’re becoming familiar with (compare what you’re seeing to what we looked like a few months ago).
Obviously I could go on and on about how apps could shape the future of parking and commuting in Boston, but we’d rather hear what you have to say. Tell us which apps are your favorite for commuting in and around Boston and what things you’d like to see come along in commuter technology in 2015 in the comments. I’ll make sure to read them, good, bad or ugly after I rinse the confetti out of my hair in the morning.
Happy New Year everybody, start to #ParkEasier in 2015