San Francisco Begins Roll-Out Of Pay-By-Phone Parking Meters

Because apparently paying by cash or credit card is too old-school for some folks, the city of San Francisco has begun rolling out parking meters that allow smartphone users to feed the meter with a wave of their handheld mobile communications device.

“It tells me where I’m parked. It tells me what time of day it is,” San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Director Ed Reiskin tells KCBS radio. “And then it prompts me for a duration in minutes, so I can just type in five minutes.”

Users also receive texts when their meter is about to expire.

Waving a pay-by-phone equipped device over a sticker on these new meters will launch and app that allows users to pay for their parking. There is also a toll-free number they can call to make the payment.

Of course, all this fancy new fanciness comes with a price tag — an additional $.45 for each transaction.

San Francisco Rolls Out Pay-By-Phone Parking Meters []


Edit Your Comment

  1. Tim says:

    A lot of cities are doing this.

    I like it. You never overpay for parking. And the app can remind you if you’ve been parking for an hour (or some other periods of time). Remember, you can still pay the old fashioned way and not pay a fee or anything.

  2. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I like this a lot. Most of the meters here still only take coins, not credit cards and I never have any change with me. Sometimes it’s kind of a crapshoot whether you’ll end up getting street parking or heading to a parking garage (most of them take credit card). I also like getting a text alert when it’s about to expire, and you could reload the meter from your smartphone.

  3. Rachacha says:

    With parking rates getting so expensive, it can be difficult to find $10+ in quarters every day without having to go to the bank and purchase 5 rolls of quarters every week. Smartphone apps or credit card transactions on all meters would be appreciated.

    • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

      When I parked in the county garage at the long-term spots, it was less than $4/day in quarters. I did have to buy rolls from the bank in front of my workplace, but I only parked there one day a week.

  4. BrightShopperGettingBrighter says:

    I like the techonology, but parking enforcement could go Big Brother very quickly. If you don’t feed the meter, so to speak, can you get an automatic ticket?

    • Nidoking says:

      How is the meter going to know whether you’re still parked there?

      I think the real annoyance would be having to remember to tell the meter/app that you’ve left, so it will know not to text you if you’re not in danger of incurring a fine.

      • Tim says:

        Also, if you don’t tell it you’ve left, it keeps charging you for parking.

      • qwertyshrdlu says:

        Of course the meter knows when you leave. Otherwise there could be time left for the next person.

      • nugatory says:

        Back at my Australian university they had “smart” meters. When a car left the parking spot, any remaining time was automatically zeroed out. If you ran out of time, it sent a message to the parking authority to come and give you a ticket.

        • Carlos Spicy Weiner says:

          They started installing sensors in the ground to do just that…zero out the meter as soon as you pull out. Next thing will be to tie the sensor to the meter when it expires, and Bingo, ticket automatically issued and mailed to you :-(.

      • jessjj347 says:

        You may have to “check out” of the spot but not sure how this system is designed…

  5. outsmartbullet says:

    Regardless of whether you feed the meter or not, the government would now have the ID of each person that parks, where, and for how long.

    • SpiffWilkie says:

      Aaaaannnnd…just purchased more stock in tin foil.

    • justabunchofwords says:

      They can already gather this information from your license plate/VIN. Granted that’s a bit more labor intensive, but still completely available.

    • Tim says:

      – It’s a contractor running the program, not a government. Could the contractor give the government the data? Sure. But anyone could give the government any data.
      – You can still feed the meter the normal way, since they left normal meters there.
      – Usually, you only need to identify the block where you parked, not the exact space.
      – Need some tin foil?

      • pythonspam says:

        “But anyone could give the government any data.”
        Only if it is collected.

        Also, it is not just governments that could potentially use the data – why not subpoenas for information for civil suits (i.e. wife proves husband’s car was parked in front of mistress’s building on a day when he claimed to be on a business trip). What if your health/life insurance checked to see if you parked at any bakeries or fast food and factored that into their actuarial tables to see how much you get charged?

    • Autoexec.bat says:
  6. Hi_Hello says:

    This would be even better if it charge you base on how long you parked when you leave. swipe in, swipe out. forget to swipe out… use the next person’s swipe in time. pay the difference because you forgot.

    I never like the idea of over paying the meter.. the old method, the next person get part of your time. The current method we have now is those slip on the window… if I paid for 2 hrs and only used 1 hrs, I would have to find someone else to give the slip to.

  7. SisterMaryPollyEsther says:

    The concept is awesome, however, I can’t help but wonder if the money spent on putting this system into place could have been spent on a more worthy infrastructure or process improvement. This is some nice sizzle. I just hope they gave parking enforcement the frying pan required to support the system.

    • Solkanar512 says:

      I’m guessing that these meters needed replacing anyway, and that these features are standard or at minimal extra cost.

  8. JeremieNX says:

    I just cannot justify the added cost. I am sure the taxpayers are paying out more than just the 45 cents at the meter.

    My city’s transportation manager was recently ousted and even had the feds raid his home and office on corruption charges involving our parking meter vendor :P

  9. tbax929 says:

    I miss a lot about big city life. One thing i don’t miss is parking headaches. I can’t remember the last time i paid to park, or even parallel parked, for that matter.

  10. Scooter McGee says:

    This was rolled out in Indianapolis a few months ago and I loved it…that is, until I got a parking ticket six minutes after paying with the mobile app. Apparently it does not always update the meter like it should, so it displays a non-paid meter. I was able to get it waived through the appeal process, but won’t see the $6 I had to pay for parking at the City-County Building, a place I otherwise never would have gone to.

  11. amuro98 says:

    The system sounded like a great idea until they got to that $0.45 transaction fee thing.

    Then again, you’re probably paying rnd(5..20)/hr anyways so what’s another $0.45/hr?

    Ah, California…where the county property assessor’s office charges you an 8% “convenience fee” to pay your property taxes online with a credit card.

    • dilbert69 says:

      I live in Alameda County, and the fee for paying with a credit card is a still-outrageous 2.5%, but nowhere near the 8% you claim. In which county do you live?

  12. DeeJayQueue says:

    Here in DC they just rolled out ParkMobile which is a similar idea.

    You DL the app, sign up for the service, attach a credit card and enter your vehicle info.
    Then, whenever you park at an eligible spot, just punch in the 5 digit code on the sticker attached to the meter and go.

    ‚Ä¢ It doesn’t matter precisely where you park. The code refers to the block you parked on, not the spot.
    ‚Ä¢ It’s easy to use, and great if you don’t have coin, even though some meters are taking CCs now directly.
    • You can feed the meter remotely.

    ‚Ä¢ The Parking Authority presumably has tabs on this, since the metering isn’t precise. That means once your time is up, they send someone pretty much immediately.
    ‚Ä¢ The meters themselves never reflect that you’ve paid anything. It can be a little sketchy for first-time users or skeptics of technology to walk away from a meter that’s flashing red.

    They don’t let you feed meters here, so the app will tell you such if you try. The way around that is to write the code down but don’t put it in the app. Fill the meter manually, then walk away. When the first manual filling is almost up, punch the code into ParkMobile and Blam! You’re paid up for another 2 hours.

  13. kimmie says:

    Santa Cruz already does this, and it’s seriously awesome. I stopped to talk to a Meter Maid about how it worked the first time I encountered one. They carry a blackberry and it has all the license plates of ppl who’ve paid. You pay down the the minute, so you’re not overpaying for the meter after you’ve left.

  14. Weekilter says:

    “Waving a pay-by-phone equipped device over a sticker on these new meters will launch *and* app that allows users to pay for their parking. There is also a toll-free number they can call to make the payment.”

    Please take that extra thirty seconds and proof-read your post before you save and send.

  15. TBGBoodler says:

    I’ve been doing this in D.C. for a while. The best part is reloadingthe meter from a restaurant or office building.