NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Memo to Big Apple drivers: There’s now a new and easy way to find parking, and while doing so, you can also help a local nonprofit.
The teenager behind it spoke exclusively to CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis how he’s making it happen.
Searching for street parking in New York City can be both challenging and time consuming. Max Rome can’t even drive and he can’t stand it.
“I live on the Upper West Side, and it takes my family 45 minutes to park every day and it’s a nightmare,” Rome said.
He said that has especially been the case since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with what seems like more people driving but fewer available spaces, as outdoor dining structures and bike racks take up spots. Plus, parking garages can get pricey.
“I figured there’s gotta be a better way to do this,” Rome said.
So, during the pandemic, the 16-year-old came up with a solution, coding an app called Parkaroo, which can help you give and get those precious parking spots.
“When someone’s ready to leave, maybe 10 or 20 minutes before, they’ll be able to make their spot available and you’ll see a pin on our map and you’ll be able to reserve it,” Rome said.
To get a spot, you use a credit, but as an incentive to give a spot, you get a credit.
You can buy credits, but Rome said new users get some for free.
It’s parking with a bit of philanthropy. Part of the proceeds collected on the app will go to nonprofit New York Cares.
“We were founded to make it easy for volunteers to access programming across the five boroughs. I love that as part of starting this business idea that central to it is the idea of also supporting the good work of a nonprofit,” said Gary Bagley, New York Cares’ executive director.
“My goal here is to make sure everyone can find parking within five minutes. I think giving back to the community, in addition to reducing traffic in the neighborhood, is a great strategy,” Rome said.
The app just launched, but Rome is hoping to rev-up interest to create a community of drivers, each driven by helping each other.
The high schooler said he was so dedicated to making the app, he’d work on it every day after doing his homework.