Darien considers app that reserves train station parking

For some commuters, permit parking may be a thing of the past. Soon, they may be able to click on an app to instantly reserve a parking spot in locations near the Darien Train Station.

Running late to the train station and afraid all the parking spots are full? Soon, commuters may be able to click on an app to instantly reserve a parking spot at the Darien Train Station.

The app is called Boxcar, which is named after the company that created it. Boxcar, based in Newark, N.J., offers on-demand parking that is reservable in advance.

The developers of Boxcar gave a presentation of the app at the Feb. 26 Planning & Zoning Commission meeting.

Boxcar, which operates in nearly 20 locations throughout New Jersey, New York, and most recently in New Canaan, works by partnering with properties near suburban train centers in what the developers described as a win-win arrangement.

“Boxcar serves people a guaranteed spot no matter what time they show up in the morning,” he said. “We are like Airbnb for parking,” he said.

Darien has more than 500 municipal parking spots, said Joe Coliangelo, founder and CEO of Boxcar. However, the town has about 1,100 private parking spots within walking distance to the train station.

“These are people that have extra parking,” he said. “Our biggest supply of parking spots is churches. It works out really well for them. They need their parking lots on Saturday and Sunday. They don’t need them Monday through Friday, and they really appreciate the extra income that’s generated from renting them out.”

Boxcar also partners with funeral homes. “On days that they have funerals or viewings, we lease out zero spots and on days that they don’t, we lease out 35 spots,” Coliangelo said. “They tell us 48 hours in advance when they have a funeral.”

The cost to reserve parking with Boxcar is about $6.50 a day.

Coliangelo said Boxcar is “suburban focused.”

“We view ourselves as more of a customer services layer,” Coliangelo said. “If someone has a problem with their parking or they don’t understand how to use our app, or they have any questions whatsoever, we want them to call us and not the parking department.”

Boxcar could also rent out people’s driveways, he said. However, those people may start parking on the street, which will clutter up the street.

Jeremy Ginsberg, director of planning and zoning, said First Selectman Jayme Stevenson is receptive to the idea of working with Boxcar.

The Commission approved a trial period, through January 2020, for Boxcar to speak with Darien’s commercial lot owners. In a letter sent from Planning & Zoning Director Jeremy Ginsberg to Boxcar, it was decided that Boxcar will give the Commission an update between October and early December.

Boxcar will now be pursuing parking spaces at several locations near the Darien Train Station including Goodwives Shopping Center, Fisherman’s Net restaurant, and the former Bank of America property. In total, these properties may give commuters 40 to 85 spots, according to the letter.

For more information on the Boxcar app, visit boxcarapp.com.

sfox@darientimes.com