For drivers who park in downtown Minneapolis and need to feed the meter, there's now a smartphone app for that.

The city on Wednesday unveiled its new pay-by-phone app that is being piloted in the North Loop neighborhood and in areas near Target Field. About 975 on-street spaces are included in the test area. Metered spaces included in the first phase of the program are marked with a sticker.  Eventually, the program will be rolled out citywide, said Mark Reed, assistant parking manager for the city.

The MPLS Parking App can be downloaded free from the Apple Store, Google Play and the city's website. It is simple to use. A driver simply signs in, plugs in the space number and the amount of time needed and enters a payment method.

The current meters that allow drivers to pay cash or credit cards will remain in place, but the Parkmobile App is "definitely the future," Read said. "The goal is to give the residents of Minneapolis another payment option."

Users of the app will pay 15 cents per transaction and 99 cents a month if they have signed up to be a member. Nonmembers will pay 25 cents per transaction.

For parkers who fear they've stayed longer than their time, the app can send an e-mail notice when a meter is about to expire, allowing the driver to add more time remotely. Drivers can also get receipts to help keep track of parking expenses or submit them to their employer for reimbursement, Read said.

And if somebody has forgotten where they parked, the app will guide them back to their vehicle.

The city has allow city employees to use system for the past four weeks to make sure it works properly. So far it's been "very successful," Read said.

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