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Annapolis Parking Goes High-Tech

With bonus parking tips for the ­legislative session

The Circulator app on my phone. Note the bus is due at the Park Place garage in six minutes.
      Parking in Annapolis is always a challenge. We are a city constrained by water, historic districts and two college campuses, all limiting the creation of more parking space. The modern solution is to make what parking is available easier to use, and these days that revolves around the internet, our computers and our mobile devices.
        As legislators, lobbyists, demonstrators, concerned citizens and the curious pour into town for the 2018 session, new Mayor Gavin Buckley’s administration is publicizing high tech tools to make it easier to park and get from your car to the State House or whatever your downtown destination might be. 
      Most everything you need to know, including maps and rates, is on the city parking site: www.AnnapolisParking.com. I’ve tried it both on my desktop and phone; it’s well designed and easy to use. 
      There’s now a special section entitled Parking Tips for the Legislative Session. Another new feature lets you reserve garage parking online for the Hillman, Knighton or Gotts Court garages. If you want to be close, buy a day pass at Hillman for $22. If you’re willing to ride the Circulator, the same day’s parking is only $11 at Knighton.
 
The Circulator Gets More Attractive
       Cost and uncertain wait time have limited the Circulator’s popularity. The city has addressed both. The Circulator is now free, and a new mobile app tells you exactly how many minutes until it gets to your location. Go to your app store and search for RLS Shuttle. When you first load it, you will have to select Annapolis.
       Other changes might be in store for the Circulator, or perhaps more properly the method for getting people from the outer parking to the city center. In the busy month of December, the city conducted a test, shuttling people from the garages to downtown using free EZ-cruisers, those large-sized electric golf carts you see running around town. The Downtown Annapolis Partnership thinks it was a smashing success and envisions a day in the not so distant future when Circulator buses are replaced with free on-call EZ-shuttle rides from wherever you park to wherever you need to go. Think free Uber-like service around the city.
       If you’ve never been to see the Maryland legislature at work, I highly recommend it. Bipartisanship, which seems non-existent in other legislative bodies, is alive and well in Maryland, and it’s life-affirming to know the system can work. My one-day field trip turned into half a dozen visits.
      This year I have the apps loaded in my phone, and I’m planning on going back. I expect I’ll be spending less time dealing with parking and more appreciating democracy in action.