Paying for parking in Springdale just got easier with Utah Tech’s assistance

ST. GEORGE — Parking in Springdale is becoming less time-consuming thanks to a new pilot program partnership with Utah Tech University that features the ability to pay using a QR code.

Students, graduates and staff stand who are working on the Springdale pilot parking program for the current tourist season stand together, St. George, Utah, April 22, 2024 | Photo by Stephanie DeGraw, St. George News

Although the Zion National Park border town already has different ways for people to pay for parking, the new test program will be faster. Currently, visitors can physically interact with one of the parking kiosks throughout the town. A second way is to use the mobile parking app provided by the parking kiosk.

Springdale Police Lt. Jason Shafer told St. George News that tourists usually pay at the kiosks. A small portion pay via the mobile appwhich requires a user to download on a device, create an account, set up vehicle information and pay for a parking transaction.

“We will still have the kiosks and app available, but this new system will replace some of our kiosk signs with QR codes that can be scanned with a phone,” Shafer said. “This will take people directly to a website to pay for parking, making it easier and quicker for visitors. This will greatly help during busy days so visitors don’t have to stand in lines at the kiosks waiting to use them.”

Utah Tech University originally built a parking application for Utah’s Division of State Parks called Parkpass. Shafer said that the program also uses a QR code to access a way to make a payment using the mobile phone’s camera.

Jason Pitts, who manages the system at Utah Tech University, approached Springdale about incorporating a similar application for their parking system. The Town Council recently approved the pilot program for the current tourist season.

As Zion National Park continues to attract more visitors, the limited parking within the park has led to an increased demand for parking in the nearby town of Springdale,” Pitts said. “To address this challenge and provide a seamless experience for guests, it is crucial to modernize Springdale’s parking system.”

Utah Tech University students and graduates are working on the Springdale pilot parking program for the current tourist season, St. George, Utah, April 22, 2024 | Photo by Stephanie DeGraw, St. George News

The new parking proposal aims to enhance Springdale’s parking system by integrating QR code technology, allowing visitors to easily pay for parking without needing a dedicated app or signup process. Pitts said that by adopting QR code technology, Springdale could improve the user experience, increase parking management efficiency, and provide valuable data to both visitors and park administrators.

Springdale Town Manager Rick Wixom said in a memo to the council members that this would allow the parking application system to be tested without causing much disruption to the entire program.

“Adding a town application, using QR codes like the State Parks, may enable more people to quickly access paid parking without having to either interact with the parking kiosks or download the parking kiosk app,” Wixom said.

Once the pilot is completed and the data reviewed, the town will consider whether moving to a broader implementation is desirable or feasible.

A pilot program is addressing parking issues for town visitors, Springdale, Utah, Aug. 22, 2023 | Photo by Stephanie DeGraw, St. George News

Shafer added that he has been in law enforcement for 16 years and with the Springdale Police Department for almost seven years. When he started, the town did not have a parking program and parking was “chaotic.”

“With the increasing number of visitors coming to see Zion, parking had become a serious issue. There were many problems with illegal parking and it made it unsafe in many areas,” Shafer said. “We saw vehicles parking in red curbed areas as well as people parking in residential areas. We even had vehicles double parking and blocking others in.”

Shafer said the original parking program was very successful. It created a more organized approach to the parking situation. While there is still occasional parking in residential areas, it’s less often. Yet, he added there is room for improvement.

“The changes we are making with the pilot program are simply to make it easier for visitors to pay for parking,” Shafer said.

A program member, Rainey Anderson, told St. George News she enjoyed working on the project and meeting with Springdale officials and residents.

“We talked about their frustrations and then came up with a solution to those frustrations that they were pretty excited about,” Anderson said.

Another member, Kynsie Hatch, said it’s been great using the knowledge gained from the degree she earned at Utah Tech.

“We’re all in different fields and we’re able to take what we’re working on in school and then put it into practice,” Hatch said.

Hatch added that working with Springdale, Zion National Park and networking with everyone working on the project is “amazing.”

Visitors with questions about parking can visit the town’s website. The kiosks also have a phone number for the parking enforcement operator, who can assist with any questions.

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