Boston city’s Transportation Department developing smartphone app to pay for metered parking

Boston city’s Transportation Department is developing a smartphone application to eliminate the scramble for cash, by using an iPhone, Android, or BlackBerry to pay for a metered parking slot.

“Two things people have in their pockets: They have a credit card. And they have a cellphone,” interim Transportation Commissioner James Gillooly said. “We aspire to have everybody use a credit card or pay by phone.”

The pay-by-phone program is not expected to begin until the fall, while the Transportation Department and the municipal technical staffers in the Office of New Urban Mechanics work out details and research similar systems in other cities.

The technology would require users to download the app; register their vehicle information, including license plate number; and plug in credit card details. After pulling into a spot, drivers would open the app on their phone, tap in the name of the street where they are parking, and then pay.

The app would warn motorists when their time is about to expire, allowing them to add more time without returning to feed the meter.

The app would be integrated with the Transportation Department’s parking and enforcement system, so that parking enforcers walking their routes would be able to plug in a driver’s license plate number and determine if the spot is paid for or if time is up.

Gillooly said drivers may have to pay a small fee for the technology.

The program would target many of the newer meters — those that accept both credit cards and quarters — in neighborhoods such as the Back Bay, officials said.

Smartphone parking apps are all the rage in Europe and have been catching on in the United States, including in Miami, New York, and Washington, D.C. Miami Beach officials introduced two mobile apps in May, Parkmobile and ParkMe, that let drivers locate city parking and provide turn-by-turn directions. Washington allows drivers to use their smartphones to pay for parking at all metered spaces, according to the city’s website.[signoff predefined=”Enjoy this?” icon=”icon-users”][/signoff]