October 31, 2018
Pete Little, Executive Director, PABC
Several municipalities/counties in the area now offer pay-by-cellphone services for parking at meters. Parkers in Washington, DC and Montgomery County can use their mobile device to enter their vehicle’s license plate and their credit card number and then pay for the time they want to park in a metered area. We tried twice since 2012 to bring a pay-by-cellphone service to Baltimore but did not succeed. In hindsight, that was a blessing in disguise. During that time, we’ve witnessed the failures and successes of other municipalities and learned three good lessons from them.
1. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
- We will get multiple vendors to provide services because in cities where only one vendor existed, and that vendor went out of business or the contract had to be terminated, there was a period with no alternative for parkers to use.
- Allowing more than one vendor means the pay-by-cellphone providers must compete to provide parkers with the best possible service at reasonable fees.
- Technologically, there is no reason why a municipality can’t have multiple pay-by-cellphone providers.
2. Cities don’t have to pay exorbitant fees
- Pay-by-cellphone service providers should bear most costs associated with providing the services.
3. Phasing in pay-by-cellphone services is better than trying to implement them city-wide all at once
- Wrinkles can be ironed out early while the program is more limited, creating a better experience in the long-run.
Pay-by-cellphone will be good for parkers.
- You won’t need to walk to the meter, fumble around with coins or a credit card, wait for it to print a receipt, and return to your car to display the receipt.
- You simply park, pay with your phone from inside your car and go directly to your destination.
- You can get text reminders when your paid time is about to expire and you can add more time (up to the duration limit for that block) from your phone.
- Receipts can be sent to you via text message or email.
Pay-by-cellphone will be good for businesses.
- Gets patrons into your businesses more quickly and easily.
- Allows patrons to stay at your business longer (up to duration limits).
Pay-by-cellphone will be good for Baltimore City
- Costs associated with the parking meter program are reduced (less wear and tear and supply costs).
- A more efficient flow of vehicles into and out of parking spaces (better utilization of a valuable, fixed resource).
Look for pay-by-cellphone by the Summer of 2019!