One of the things I used to hate about a trip to downtown New Bedford was the constant struggle to remember to bring quarters to park. It's not that I had a problem with paying for the parking; my issue was that I don't really carry cash, never mind coins.

That's why I was so happy when the city launched the MobileNOW! app a few years ago, which enabled drivers to use the app to make online payments to New Bedford's parking clerk and traffic division. It was a total game-changer. Now, I didn't have to facepalm every time I drove downtown and forgot quarters. I'd just pull out my phone, scan the QR code on the meter, and pay for the meter.

The best feature on the app was the ability to remotely extend the time on the meter. If your meeting or dinner was running longer than initially expected, you would just use the app to "feed the meter" remotely to avoid getting a parking ticket. The technology was wonderful – until now.

The MobileNOW! app is no longer an option.

If you try to use the MobileNOW! app to pay for a meter, you'll get the following message:

Dear customer, due to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on its activities, MobileNOW! has had to cease its operations on May 18th, 2020, and has dissolved the same day. We apologize for any inconvenience caused. For more details, please go to our website www.mobile-now.us.

Chalk up another win for COVID-19. Are you kidding me? Are we really back to the archaic days of scrambling to dig up quarters like we're sitting in the laundromat in 1999?

To add insult to injury, there's been an apparent coin shortage for the past month or two, which is now making it difficult to pay the meter with quarters and impossible to pay with the app.

 

We reached out to Jonathan Carvalho, Deputy Chief of Staff and Public Information Officer for the City of New Bedford, to find out what the City's plan is for the parking meters.

"If anyone receives a citation due to the coin shortage they should contact the Traffic Commission, as we understand there is a nationwide shortage and there are motorists who were relying on the app," Carvalho said. "We’ll be launching the new app as soon as possible but had to move quickly after the one we had used went out of business."

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