Big Apple's Pay for Parking by Smartphone Program Previews Future


  • New York Parking Program Picture

    New York Parking Program Picture

    New York is testing a new pilot program that allows motorists to pay parking meters remotely. | April 15, 2013

2 Photos

Just the Facts:
  • New York City has launched a pilot program in an 18-block section of the Bronx that will allow drivers to pay for parking by smartphone.
  • The technology will also warn motorists when their time is about to expire via e-mail or text messages.
  • Another app, coming later this year, will help New York City drivers locate open parking spaces with their smartphones.

NEW YORK — There's no need to dig through purses or pockets for change to feed the meters in an 18-block section of the Bronx. New York City has launched a pilot program that allows drivers to pay for parking by smartphone.

The free app and payment processing service are being provided by PayByPhone, a company that has already installed the technology in cities like Miami, San Francisco, London, Ottawa and Vancouver. The new system is said to come at no additional cost to drivers and no increase in parking rates.

Before using the service, motorists will first need to register on the PayByPhone site, submitting their credit card information and car license plate numbers, and then downloading the app.

Parking simply requires scanning the QR code on each meter. The system will then send a text or e-mail to the phone confirming that payment has been received. Another signal is sent before the meter's time runs out, giving users the option of extending their time without the need to return to their cars.

Those without smartphones can dial a toll-free number from any touch-tone phone and input the seven-digit code labeled on each meter. Text messaging then works the same as with the smartphone app.

The pilot program will cover 264 parking spaces in the Belmont Business Improvement District, home to the Bronx's Little Italy. The area attracts large crowds to its markets and restaurants, so parking is often at a premium. The new system is intended to help ease that congestion and, if successful, may be rolled out to other parts of the city.

To make life even easier for motorists, later this year New York City plans to introduce yet another app, this one from a company called Streetline, which will help users locate open parking spaces with their smartphones.

Streetline embeds sensors in the road surface to detect open parking spaces and transmits that information to a real-time map, accessible online as well via the app. Red-yellow-green color coding then indicates parking availability.

In one of the most parking-intensive cities in the world, these two innovative uses of smartphone technology may relieve frustration and, as Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said in a press release, "bring parking and driving in New York City into the 21st century."

Edmunds says: Expect lots of other cities to fall in line on this idea that takes a lot of the hassle out of parking.

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