No change for the meter? There’s an app for that—and traffic czar Jim Travers is trying to bring it to New Haven.
Travers spent part of Wednesday in a meeting with Parkmobile, an Atlanta-based company with a system that allows people to use their cellphones to pay for parking in metered spaces. Click the play arrow to watch a movie about Parkmobile’s system.
Parkmobile is the second company Travers has spoken with about the service, he said. The conversations are just beginning; Travers said he couldn’t estimate when New Haven might have the system in place.
The idea is to give people more options to pay for parking, to increase meter collections and decrease ticketing, Travers said. New Haven already has a 51 percent pay-by-plastic rate at its meters, since many of them began accepting credit cards two years ago .
“We want to create a model that has more options available,” Travers said. Most frustration with parking in the city is not because of the rate of $1.50 per hour, but “because you want to pay and you can’t because you don’t have coins.”
Travers (pictured) explained how a pay-by-cell system would work:
“We would put a sticker on every meter,” he said. The sticker would give each meter a number, which would appear along with a QR code and a 1-800 telephone number that people could scan or call, respectively. Smartphone users could download an app that would register their car or cars with the system. Regular cell phone users could call and register by punching in their credit card number and license plate number.
Once you’re registered, you would either call the number or fire up the app to tell the system what meter you’re parking at, how much time you want, and which of your many cars you’re driving. Then you go off to shop or eat.
The meter wouldn’t show that the space is paid for. The old mechanical meters have no way of connecting to the internet. The new credit card meters do, for checking credit cards, but it would drain their batteries too quickly to hook them up to the pay-by-cell system.
When a parking meter enforcement officer comes up and sees your car parked by a meter that seems to be expired, he would punch the meter number into his handheld device to check if you paid by cell phone.
‘What I really love about it is, say I’ve paid for an hour and I’m in ABC restaurant and the service is incredibly slow, I’ll get a text message on my phone that my meter is about to expire,” Travers said. You could then use the app or the toll-free line to add more time to the meter. By cell phone, you wouldn’t be able to add more than the hourly limit for parking at that meter.
“We continue to look for ways that we can offer more payment options for people,” Travers said. “If we can get more people to pay [at the meter versus in parking tickets], I’m happy with that. ... I want our meter revenue to increase faster than the rate of ticket writing.”