Before graduating in May 2016, Montclair State student Eunice Choe is determined to resolve the ongoing parking issue that many students and faculty face on campus with the launch of her application, ParkAlong.
Choe, 22, a business administration major with a minor in entrepreneurship, has been at Montclair State for nearly four years now, and explains that finding parking has always been one of the most complained-about issues. In a survey of 100 students, Choe found that the struggle with finding parking has led to illegal parking or students refusing to park at all, forcing them to skip out on classes.
As a commuter student, the frustration of finding a parking spot in a timely manner is ultimately what encouraged Choe to come up with a solution, leading her to become the founder and CEO of a start-up that is expected to launch in April, approximately a month before she walks across stage in her cap and gown.
ParkAlong is an online parking marketplace where people can find and rent vacant lots and driveways. Through the application, homes and businesses that surround Montclair State and are willing to supply their underutilized parking spaces will be able to connect with the students and faculty to provide them with a convenient and cost-effective parking place.
“I really believe in helping the community grow itself,” said Choe. “I believe that the application can ease a lot of stress and the frustration that comes with finding parking, especially in congested areas like Montclair State.”
Benedicto Omuya, director of Parking Services explained how technology is commonly integrated in an effort to mediate the parking situation by assisting students with their parking decisions before they come to campus.
“Campuses like ours look to other means of parking management, which include technology-based solutions. The Parker app shows exactly how many spaces are available within CarParc and also which lots have available space on campus,” explained Omuya.
“I believe ParkAlong will be another asset to our methods of communication, and I think it will assist local business with better use of their resource,” said Omuya.
In addition to Parker, PayByPhone Parking is an application that allows students to pay on their mobile phone in order to park in metered parking spots.
Despite these options, finding parking is a challenge that persists and, according to Choe, causes a great deal of traffic. She says the Parker app has been reported to be inaccurate and, while PayByPhone eases the payment method and can eliminate the hefty parking permit that all students and faculty are required to purchase, Choe insists that this is not the problem.
“The problem that we have is we don’t have enough spaces for these people,” said Choe. “We have over 20,000 staff, faculty and students and only around 6,000 parking spaces to accommodate for all of them.”
With ParkAlong, students are expected to have more parking options and could save money by connecting with residents and businesses who can provide parking spaces for reasonable prices.
Aleksandra Mufceska, a junior journalism major who commutes to campus, explained how she has found “loopholes” in order to find convenient parking spaces on campus.
“I paid about 200 dollars for a parking pass, and I only parked in CarParc one time this year,” said Mufceska. “There are more commuters every year, and there’s such a high demand for parking, but not that many spaces.”
So far, Choe has connected with Alexus Steakhouse and Valley Regency — nearby businesses located on Valley Road that will open their lots to students and faculty at Montclair State once ParkAlong launches this month.