Pay for Parking all over DC by Mobile Phone Soon

Photo by PoPville flickr user fromcaliw/love

From a DDOT press release:

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and Parkmobile today announced a program that will allow residents, workers and visitors to use their mobile phones to pay for parking at all of the approximately 17,000 on-street metered spaces throughout the District of Columbia.

Parkmobile already provides pay by phone service in the Foggy Bottom, Georgetown Hospital, and Ballpark areas and will start adding locations around the District starting in June. Drivers can sign up at, where they can also download a mobile app. Once registered, customers can use the mobile app, the internet, or a phone call to pay for parking. The parking transactions appear in real time on the handheld devices used by Parking Enforcement Officers.

The mobile apps for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry are easy to use. iPhone users will also be able to take advantage of the GPS functionality, saving up to 5 favorite zones and license plates. You can quick park in the same zone and parking space that was used the last time you parked. These additional features are coming soon for Android and Blackberry. Please visit for information on the features of each app.

Motorists who signed up with other pay by phone parking services during the pilot period in the following areas Dupont Circle, Union Station, downtown on K Street, I Street, and New York Avenue, NW locations, will want to create a new account with Parkmobile which has been selected to provide pay by phone service citywide.

22 Comment

  • gotryit

    What if you have a dumb cell phone? No phone? Dead phone?

    • Then you’re exactly as well off as you were before.

      Let’s not be crabs pulling each other back into a pot.

    • Then put coins into the meter like you used to.

    • ah

      You can call in and use voice prompts, with text/sms confirmation. You can even use a landline, although that seems pretty useless except if you forget to “turn off” your parking.

      But if you have no phone you probably should stick to coins. Or perhaps stick to a horse.

  • so I pay online/via phone call, but it seems that nothing gets displayed on my parking meter. The meter would still flash “Expired”. I assume that the parking officer starts to write the ticket, but then once my plate gets keyed-in, I’m shown as having properly paid for the spot.

    hmm…we’ll see how it goes.

    • I see this failing pretty easily and resulting in increased revenue for DC.

    • The pay-by-phone trial that they started last year through a different vendor worked out well. I used it several times and never got a ticket. The new vendor has mobile apps for smartphones, which should make things even easier.

    • There’s not a link to the meter. There is a link to the meter maid. If they try to write you a ticket, the meter will come up as paid.

      • If I was a parking officer, this system wouldn’t sound so hot to me. As it is now, if I see “0:47” on the meter, i keep walking to the next meter, as that one is still valid. However, I will now have to start keying in all kinds of license plates (or spot ID numbers, not sure what it’s keyed off of) because they will all say “expired”. But either way, there is more key punching for me.

  • So I did this type of parking-by-phone system when I didn’t have quarters in Bethesda. Unfortunately, MoCo uses ParkNOW! instead of

    Heaven forbid DC check with surrounding areas and try to use the same system so users don’t need to have multiple accounts all over the place. There’s usually a minimum amount you charge to your parking account — that’s where they getcha!

    @ Anonny: I speak from my one-time experience that the system does work!

    • Worked great for me every time I parked out by Dupont Circle. And I think your shock and surprise that different jurisdictions often use different vendors for similar services is delightful. Cherish it. You don’t want to lose that sense of wonder.

      • My sense of childlike wonder went out the window when you realize the minumum to charge to a credit card is ~$25 per vendor. Thanks for the condescending remark though!

  • notlawd

    As long as this works, this is the best news I have heard all day! I never have enough change for the meter! Its about time we get more high tech. Next step is to include on the GPS map the available parking spaces (or even those that are expiring soon) so I dont have to drive around in circles 100 times to find an empty space.

  • Woooo – the reviews of the iPhone app are HARSH. This sounded wonderful, but if it simply doesn’t work?

    • ah

      Not for me yet. “Unknown error” prevents me from getting past login.

      • ah

        Update: It now works. Their helpdesk contacted me to tell me they had fixed some server-side issue, and that seems to have solved at least my problem.

        the app is pretty slow and seems to request data from the server with every page load, which is not great app writing.

  • I had some issues with the droid app too, it was tough to verify that I had “turned off” the parking. But that was back in November and I’ll be optimistic that they’ve improved the system if they’re taking it citywide.

    Captcha: U8PP (hehe)

  • Isn’t driving while checking a phone app as dangerous as driving while talking without a headset or texting?

  • ledroittiger

    A friend of mine had his car stolen from Georgetown a few weeks ago and he has since received two tickets in downtown DC. Why don’t we try linking that database with the handhelds of parking police first?

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