Cranford resident Joe Colangelo started renting out his driveway to a frustrated commuter in 2016.

For $2 a day, folks who couldn't arrive at the local train station in time to nab a parking space could rest their car at his place.

That tiny idea has grown into a NJ-based company that acts as the Airbnb of parking spaces in the Garden State's commuter towns.

Colangelo's Boxcar app matches commuters who need parking with property owners who have unused driveways or lots they're willing to rent out to commuters for a fee. The app has spots available more than 20 New Jersey municipalities, mostly in Morris and Union counties.

"We have some spots that are $3 a day and some spots that are $12 a day, and it's really depending on how much people want to park in a location, how many spots are available," Colangelo said.

Spots closer to a transit station typically cost more than those that demand a farther walk.

According to Colangelo, Boxcar's prices typically cost a dollar or two more than what would be charged at a lot. But at those lots, which are typically some combination of permitted spots and first-first serve, many times there are no spots available by late morning, he said.

The waiting list to earn a permit in Cranford, he said, was the same length recently as it was when he was growing up in the township.

The app, with offices in Chatham and Newark, should soon expand its presence in Bergen County. Colangelo said Boxcar likes to approach the municipality with the idea, and only seeks out spots in a town if they're on board with it.

Right now, there are "very few homeowners" on the Boxcar platform, Colangelo said. About three-quarters of sales are done through churches and other nonprofits such as American Legions.

"Boxcar has 800 parking spots under management in New Jersey commuter towns," Colangelo said.

When a spot is rented out, 75% of the fee goes to the property owner.

The app has about 1,500 users per week who purchase parking. Beyond New Jersey, it has a presence in Long Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts and California.

New Jersey towns where Boxcar spaces are available:

  • Berkeley Heights
  • Chatham
  • Cranford
  • Fanwqood
  • Glen Ridge
  • Jersey City
  • Livingston
  • Long Branch
  • Madison
  • Matawan
  • Millburn
  • Montclair
  • Morristown
  • New Providence
  • Newark
  • Princeton Junction
  • Red Bank
  • Rutherford
  • Saddle Brook
  • Summit
  • Totowa
  • Westfield

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com./