New downtown parking app as county takes over Park Macon operation

ParkMobile app replaces Passport Parking after county terminated the relationship with company running the Park Macon-Bibb system


Liz Fabian

Park Macon’s new green signs provide digital payment instructions and also provides a toll free number for those without a smartphone. The meters still take coins, too.

Regular visitors to downtown Macon are learning the Passport Parking app no longer works to secure a metered parking space in the new Park Macon system.

Earlier this year, the Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority took over managing the former Park Macon-Bibb entity from an independent parking management company and switched to the ParkMobile system. ParkMobile is an Atlanta-based company which markets itself as the leading provider of smart parking and mobility solutions in North America.

“As we continue to strengthen our presence in our home state, we’re also creating a more seamless experience for Macon visitors and residents. Our partnership will now allow drivers to easily find parking in the city core,” ParkMobile’s Managing Director David Hoyt said in a news release announcing the launch.

Anyone trying to access parking through the old Passport app in downtown zone 4780 now gets an onscreen notice in red that reads, “Zone is not currently available.” Some signs posted downtown still advertise the old system while the county finalizes the transition and upgrades signage and websites.

The old website is still online, but information about the new system that also controls the county-owned parking deck at 440 Mulberry St. can be found at 

Downtown Macon parking remains $1.25 per hour, but the ParkMobile fee is 10 cents more than the Passport app, said the UDA’s Alex Morrison. (Liz Fabian)

The hourly rate remains $1.25, but users will see a slight increase.

“The parking costs are the same,” UDA Executive Director Alex Morrison said Monday. “The ParkMobile fee is 35 cents compared to 25 cents for Passport, however.”

Bright green signs posted on the back of the meters advertise the new “Contactless Parking” ParkMobile system with an app that can be downloaded to secure a spot for up to three hours.

With the new system, parking spaces also can be reserved in advance, including in the parking garage.

Motorists can bypass the app and make a payment through a QR code on the sign, and meters will still take coins.

Those without a smartphone can call the toll-free number 877-727-5008 or visit for additional information.

June 6, Morrison briefed the Downtown Macon Community Association about the change as he explained the role of the authority to the downtown merchants at their monthly meeting.

“You probably know me from putting in parking meters, which whether you believe it or not, is one of the most important things to grow and support downtown,” Morrison said.

Under outside management in its first five years, the parking program failed to generate the anticipated revenue that was to be reinvested in downtown. The COVID-19 pandemic further complicated matters by reducing visitors to downtown and causing personnel shortages for the private company managing the parking system.

A few Passport Parking signs remain in downtown, but drivers should follow the ParkMobile directions on the new green signs on each meter. (Liz Fabian)

The authority became increasingly frustrated with the lack of timely financial reporting from the prior management company and lagging collections as people stopped paying to park and ignored tickets when they got them.

Morrison wanted the downtown business owners to know the UDA is directly managing the operation, and will be enforcing tickets.

“The tickets for parking are real tickets. They are backed by Macon-Bibb County, our court system, not a third party putting a fee on you,” Morrison said.

While Morrison said the UDA “will work with” anyone who has accumulated a large amount of unpaid tickets, the county will be taking scofflaws to court and reporting them to credit agencies.

“Take it seriously. Tell your friends to take it seriously,” Morrison told the downtown entrepreneurs. “The main reason you should take it seriously is because a parking space taken by you or your employees is not helping your business.”

Before parking meters were restored in 2018, visitors often had to repeatedly circle the streets looking for spaces.

“Most blocks were seeing almost 100% occupancy every day with no turnover,” Morrison said.

While the old system had one zone for all of downtown, the new ParkMobile system has a different zone for every block. The zone number is posted on the back of each meter.

Morrison’s wife, who is the current chair of the Downtown Macon Community Association, said she recently used ParkMobile in another city and found it very easy to use.

“The lock screen on your phone shows you how much parking time you have left,” Julia Morrison said. “It’s a lot easier to keep track of because it’s always sitting on your lock screen.”

ParkMobile announced the new partnership with Macon-Bibb County on June 16, but the county also is working with gtechna on developing new curbside enforcement software that will allow parking attendants to print tickets on their hand-held devices.

Gtechna also will install a camera monitoring system in the parking deck to record the license plate numbers of vehicles entering and exiting so that citations can be written for those who did not pay.

Now that Cotton Avenue is one-way from Cherry to Second streets, meters have been installed for the new angled parking. (Liz Fabian)

In recent months, the UDA has been using parking revenue to freshen up that Mulberry Street parking deck that is used by patrons of the Douglass Theatre, and employees of the Bibb County Board of Education and Gateway Plaza.

The parking department also added meters to the new angled parking spaces on Cotton Avenue that is now one-way since the creation of the new plaza.

The UDA is expected to release more information on the parking changes in the coming weeks.

Civic Journalism Senior Fellow Liz Fabian covers Macon-Bibb County government agencies and can be reached at [email protected] or 478-301-2976.