Cellphone payment coming to Green P parking lots


New system, already in use in many cities, allows motorists to extend their parking time without returning to the car.

The city-owned Toronto Parking Authority is introducing cellphone payment at its 130 Green P lots.

The plan is to test the system over the summer and extend it to all parking lots in the fall, said parking authority vice-president Ian Maher.

Some 70 cities already offer the option to pay with a cellphone. They report that users like the feature that warns your time is about to expire and asks if you want to buy more time, Maher said.

“Everyone says that’s the best feature of it,” he said. “You don’t have to return to your vehicle to extend your time. It’s obviously much more convenient for people.”

The parking authority has selected a vendor to supply the technology, and details are still being worked out.

A report was presented Wednesday to council’s public works and infrastructure committee, which endorsed technical changes to move the project forward.

Generally, Maher said, people will sign up on a website using their phone or desktop, registering their licence plate and credit card number. They can then deposit money into an account that will be drawn down as parking is booked.

The user inputs the parking lot number and specifies how much parking time is needed. The app gives the fee and asks for confirmation.

As time passes, it will also notify the user when there’s 10 or 15 minutes left, and the user can add time, if desired, at the push of a button, Maher said.

The system gives parkers peace of mind that they won’t be dinged by a parking ticket. That means people may be more likely to patronize stores and restaurants on commercial strips, said Councillor Ana Bailao.

“I think it’s a fantastic idea,” said Bailao, a member of the parking authority’s board. “The convenience is great. I think it’ll be very popular.”

Maher said the cellphone parker will pay the same rates and there will be no administration fee to use the service in Green P lots, which encompass about 10,000 parking spaces.

The parking authority handles 30 million parking transactions yearly and is estimating that at least 5 million of those transactions will be done via cellphone.

“It’s a plausible, but low, estimate in my mind,” Maher said. “I’m hoping it’ll be more than that.”

They plan to extend cellphone payments to Toronto’s 18,000 on-street parking spaces as soon as possible after the Green P lots are up and running, but the timing is undetermined.

Cities that have similar systems include Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary and Winnipeg. In the United States, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Miami offer it.

By: Paul Moloney City Hall Bureau reporter, Published on Wed Apr 09 2014 at http://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/2014/04/09/cellphone_payment_coming_to_green_p_parking_lots.html

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