Parking smart, made easy with app
About two years ago, Park City’s parking methods were updated with "in-car meters," allowing drivers to park seamlessly by pre-paying with electronic tags hanging from their rearview mirrors. While the devices fared well in town, they were not successful across the globe. The device companies are now discontinued, which left Park City’s Public Works department searching for a new method for parking.
Brian Andersen, parking team leader, wanted to continue to modernize parking in town and decided to go with a mobile smartphone application, called Paybyphone, which will not only allow users to park easily on Main Street but also add time to their meter with just the push of a button on their phones.
"We first started using the software in November of last year and have been beta testing it through the winter," he said. "It was designed to replace our ‘in-car meter’ program, which has essentially come to an end since we can’t get those devices anymore."
Those who currently have in-car meters will still be able to use the devices until the non-replaceable batteries give out. The companies who sold the devices to the Public Works department have gone out of business and cannot replace them or their batteries.
There are several ways to download the Paybyphone application: online at http://www.paybyphone.com, using a smartphone browser to type in m.paybyphone.com or going to the Google Play store, iTunes store or Blackberry App World and installing the application.
Once the application is installed, users register with their phone number, a personal identification number, their vehicle’s license plate number and a debit or credit card. Users can also register up to four different vehicles. To park, users simply enter Park City’s location number, which is 5016, choose which vehicle they are using from their list and enter how long they will be parked in the space.
Andersen said he has received a lot of questions from users about how meter monitors will be able to tell if they have paid for parking before issuing them a ticket. To that, he answers that the Paybyphone software is integrated with local law enforcement’s parking software and works in real time.
"An officer asked me if that was true, so I had someone use the app right then and there," he said. "Before the officer can issue a ticket, they have to pull up your license plate, so he did that immediately after the user of the app started an active session and it showed the user had paid to park."
If users of the app are sitting in a restaurant having lunch or dinner on Main Street and their session is about to expire, they will receive an SMS text message notifying them. They can then grab their check and head back to their vehicles or add more time to their sessions using the app.
While some may feel the app excludes those who do not have smartphones to download the app, Andersen said the "Pay and Display" parking meters can still be used. Paybyphone can also be used without a smartphone by calling 866-234-7275 and registering vehicles and payment by following integrated voice response prompts.
Andersen and his parking team chose the Paybyphone app over two or three others because Verrus Mobile Technologies, the mobile phone payment specialist that owns the app, offered the best cost arrangement.
"At this point in time, it is costing us a convenience fee of 25 cents every time someone uses the app to park," Andersen said. "We are covering the convenience fee during a ‘start-up period,’ and that fee may be passed along to the user. We will revisit that in the future, but for now, we are paying the fee."
Parking rates will also be adjusted during special occasions, including Sundance. During the winter beta testing phase, Andersen and his team changed the parking rate for the Wasatch Brew Pub lot on Main Street. They were successful in changing the rates to $2 for an hour, $6 more for two hours and $8 more for three hours.
Andersen, now confident the app is helpful and its software works well, encourages residents to download the app however they can to help make their summer on Main Street that much more enjoyable.
"Paybyphone has a customer service line that is very helpful, and the front desk here at Public Works can help with the process as well," he said. "They are more than happy to walk users through the steps and get them started."
For more information or to register for the Paybyphone app, visit http://www.paybyphone.com or contact Brian Andersen at 435-615-5371.
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