A newly installed parking pay station in a USM lot near Bailey Hall on the Gorham campus. Robert Lowell / American Journal

The University of Southern Maine has made changes to its pay-to-park system following complaints during the past school year.

“We’ve made some good changes due to input from the community,” President Jacqueline Edmondson said Monday.

Many students and visitors parking on the university’s Gorham campus were unhappy with fines.

People parking on campus had a hard time navigating the pay-to-park system, said Justin Swift, university chief business officer and vice president for Finance and Administration.

So, the university changed out the permit vendor from HonkMobile to ParkEngage, offering more payment options other than scanning QR codes.

The university has instituted walk-up parking pay stations at its Gorham and Portland campuses to eliminate the need to use smartphones to pay for parking. Visitors can now pay by credit or debit cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay.


It also added signage, kiosks, and a 60-minute grace period in Gorham that allows drivers to pick up or drop off passengers for events like hockey or basketball without paying to park. The Portland campus has a 30-minute grace period.

“We want to be good neighbors,” Swift, who has been at the university for 15 years, said.

The changes went into effect July 1.

“I feel it has struck the right chord,” Swift said. “It’s more user friendly.”

The ParkEngage program is similar to one the city of Portland uses, he said.

Last year, complaints about the parking situation on the Gorham campus came from not only students, but residents of Gorham and neighboring communities, who parked on campus for events like sports tournaments or to hike trails. Complaints included lack of signs with notice of parking fees.


Gorham Recreation Director Cindy Hazelton is now the liaison from the town to the university’s Parking Committee and she said this week it’s “a bit too early to tell” how the new parking policy is being received by townspeople.

“For now, my phone is not ringing so let’s give it a bit of time,” she said.

Parking fines range from $55 to $250 for violations and are mailed.

The parking enforcement vendor remains Parking Revenue Recovery Services that provides cameras to read license plates and issues fines for violations. The university has the service under review, according to its website.

“We are exploring all of our options,” Swift said.

The hourly cost to park for a standard vehicle on the Gorham campus is $1.05, and $4.15 per hour in Portland, according to the university’s website. Other rates offered are by the day, overnight, monthly or yearly passes. Parking at the Lewiston-Auburn campus remains free.

The university last year generated about $1.6 million from parking fees in Gorham and Portland, Swift said, but budgets about $2.8 million to maintain lots. Expenses include snowplowing, lighting, paving and striping. While parking loses money, Swift said the university wants to keep rates as low as possible.

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