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Feeding parking meter via smartphone one step closer in Minneapolis

  • Blog Post by: Tim Harlow
  • January 28, 2014 - 1:02 PM

On days like Tuesday with below zero temperatures and a biting wind chill, the convenience of being able feed the meter before getting out of your vehicle would be nice.

The likelihood of that becoming a reality moved closer as the Minneapolis Transportation and Public Works Committee gave its blessing to bringing a system that would allow drivers to pay for parking by using their mobile phones. The measure now goes to the full City Council for approval on Feb. 7.

If approved then, the city would put out requests for proposals next month. The goal would be to select a vendor by April, conduct testing during the summer and roll out the system in the fall, said Jon Wertjes, director of Traffic and Parking Services.

"We can do better or more for customer service," he said during his presentation to the committee Tuesday.

The system would work like this: Drivers could use an app on their smartphone and use a credit card to pay for parking. The system could also send them a text message when their meter is about to expire and allow them to add time from any location.

Motorists who don't have a smartphone would also be able to call a phone number, enter the meter space, their license or plate number and pay that way.

Similar systems are already in use in Houston, Seattle and Washington, D.C., already have such capability.

City officials say such a system would bring benefits to the consumers and potentially reduce credit card fees for the city.

Currently those who park in Minneapolis go to a pay station, usually in the middle of the block, type in the space number and pay with coins or credit card. The city covers the credit card fees.

Wertjes said even with the additional credit card costs, revenue also is up since the more modern meters went in, and the net revenue "is positive."

Going forward, Minneapolis is exploring other improvements to metered parking, such as using parking data in an app to guide drivers to open spots.

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