DDOT Launches Pay By Phone Parking Meter Pilot


Well this is wild. From a DDOT press release:

There’s a new way to pay for parking in the District, and all you need is a mobile phone. The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) today launched a Pay by Phone pilot program that will eliminate the need to carry change for the meters or run back to your car to add more time. This cashless payment option will be offered at 700 parking spaces in three areas: Dupont Circle, Union Station, and downtown on K Street, I Street, and New York Avenue, NW.

“This service will greatly improve the parking experience for many of our residents, because it’s so simple to use,” said DDOT Director Gabe Klein. “No one likes to carry a lot of change, but almost everyone has a cell phone, and all it takes is one call to pay for a meter.”

DDOT will begin operating the service on April 12, but motorists can sign up today at paybyphone.com or by calling 1-888-510-PARK (7275). Drivers will need to provide their mobile phone number, license plate and credit card number.

Once they are signed up with a free pay by phone account, users just follow these simple steps to make a payment:

1. Call the toll free number from their mobile phone
2. Enter the location number that is posted on the meter or nearby signs
3. Enter the parking time desired.

The appropriate total will be charged to their credit card. A history of transactions is viewable any time the user logs into their account.

When paying by phone, motorists may also select the option to receive a text message reminder minutes before their time expires and can also call back to add additional parking time remotely from any phone, provided they won’t exceed the parking time limit. That feature greatly reduces the chance of a parking violation.

“Pay by phone service is an important part of our commitment – spelled out in our 2-year Action Agenda – to find innovative solutions to update our outdated inventory of parking meters,” said Director Klein. “We are going to take advantage of the most cutting-edge technology to improve the parking experience city-wide.”

DDOT has already installed multi-space meters throughout commercial corridors in the District replacing many old and non-functioning single space meters. Also, the department is currently testing solar-powered single space meters that take credit cards as well as coins.

The District’s pay by phone pilot service will be provided by Verrus Mobile Technologies, Inc.

“We’re excited to be launching Pay by Phone in the DC area,” said Verrus Co-Founder, David Spittel. “Our service takes the pain and hassle out of everyday parking, and once registered, motorists can use their Verrus account in the 100-plus cities we service as well.”

9 Comment

  • Knowing how incredibly inept the parking enforcement folks can be in this town, does anyone really trust them to not ticket your car, when although you’ve paid for parking on the phone, there is no time showing on the meter?

    • ah

      No. I think they should send a placard when you register that shows you are participating in the program. Obviously it won’t show the time, but it could include a barcode or some sort of account number that would verify. Leave it right where they would place the ticket so they can’t miss it (but still will).

      On the other hand, if you have an online billing system it should be pretty easy to defeat the ticket. No arguments as to time either way.

  • Apparently the parking enforcement personnel’s handheld ticketing device will ‘read’ the amount of time left. I agree that the human component may end up being problematic, especially since dc has bottom-of-the-barrel hiring practices for parking enforcement staff. I’m equally concerned about the technology just not working though – more than half the multi-space-meters I’ve tried to use in the past month have been broken. Not sure if the technology sucks or DC just isn’t maintaining it properly.

  • Are there still parking meters where “pay by phone” is allowed? I’m guessing there are — so is the only thing preventing us from being able to use this city-wide the lack of a location number?

    It would be a lot cooler if they could hook into your phone’s GPS somehow and then you wouldn’t need a location number.

    Anyway, I think this is fantastic, and I will gladly take my chances. It’s not like you don’t get parking tickets for non-violations all the time anyway.

    • I think it’s lack of location number that’s preventing city wide deployment also probably demographics of people likely to use the system. I’ll be surprised if there isn’t a minimum charge. So instead of spending $0.50 to run into CVS using a meter, you’re paying $1 for the same errand. I would expect that this is less popular on the East side of town.

      This is more or less the same system the city already uses when a parking meter is broken and you want to use it. You call in, give the number on the meter and you get a confirmation code that’s a get out of jail free code for 2 hours. The only difference will be the automation instead of sitting on hold for 20 minutes to talk to a live person.

      GPS is not accurate or reliable enough to enforce parking restrictions/ID a particular parking spot.

      The only thing that would be cooler for me is if you could text the information instead of using minutes up (life minutes as well as cell phone minutes).

  • I hope the text messages you get are like, “U hav 2 min lft! OMG, Pay now! Kthxbai!”

  • I appreciate the use of technology. Compare this to WMATA who just decided you should be able to see how much $ is on your SmartTrip card by viewing your account online, BUT they still aren’t sure if they will be able to allow you to add money to your account online! ridiculous!

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