Chicago app cage match: ParkWhiz vs. SpotHero

May 6, 2015
ParkWhiz UI

Image from ParkWhiz.

Earlier this week, the app ParkWhiz rolled out flat-rate “Simple Price Parking” at over 100 Chicago parking facilities, allowing drivers to reserve an hour of parking for just five bucks, or two hours for $10 and 12 hours for $15. “…The main goal with regards to introducing Simple Price Parking is we want to make parking in Chicago more affordable and convenient,” Aashish Dalal, CEO of ParkWhiz, told the Chicago Tribune.

ParkWhiz works by giving app and site users “real-time parking availability at over 1,500 ParkWhiz partner locations,” each of which are vetted by the company. It’s easy to use: just enter your location, then either choose from a selection of hourly rates, or follow the app’s prompts to seek out $5-per-hour spots.

So, how does the new ParkWhiz app fare against its competition? We compared ParkWhiz’s rates against those of competitor SpotHero.

The first test: Parking near Cloud Gate, an outdoor sculpture also known as The Bean near the city’s Millennium Park. The downtown parking prices on ParkWhiz averaged $21 an hour, but using the new “Simple Price Parking” feature, we were able to find three locations for $5 per hour, with the closest one an 11-minute walk to the Bean early on a Wednesday morning. SpotHero’s cheapest option was $9.99 per hour, less than a quarter mile away. SpotHero’s closest option was just .1 miles away… but cost a whopping $39.

What about other areas outside the city center? We looked in Lincoln Park, an up-and-coming neighborhood, and using ParkWhiz, we found four $5-per-hour spots available for 6:00 a.m. on a Wednesday morning. SpotHero had one spot available, but it was only $4, and just .35 miles from the area’s main attraction, the Lincoln Park Zoo.

The final test we ran: finding parking near the University of Chicago. This is where both providers ran into trouble: ParkWhiz turned up a number of spaces, including 3 Simple Price Parking spots, but something seemed fishy. A quick Google Map revealed that the spots were as far as 8 miles away, but the app didn’t give us a warning. SpotHero had a similar problem, but turned up 75 spots, ranging from a 4 mile walk to an 8 mile walk. The cheapest parking spot available was $2, but even that entailed a 5-mile walk to campus.

On the whole, the new Simple Price Parking is a great feature, but with only a handful of cheap spaces available, especially in certain areas, there’s room for improvement… and expansion. Learn more about ParkWhiz here.

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Category: Miscellaneous

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