NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- Here's an idea for "App of the Week" - a smartphone application that allows you to extend the time on a parking meter via a simple text message.
Depending on where you live that can save you some significant cash. In Seattle, for example, parking tickets can go as high as $44.
Some cities keep the meter running – literally. Ann Arbor, Mich. charges $10 for an expired meter if paid within 24 hours of the infraction, and goes all the way to $60 if the ticket is paid after 30 days.
Now, a new service from Vancouver-based Digital Payment Technologies promises to alleviate some pain from the parking ticket payout.
This week, the firm announced a pilot program in Lake Geneva, Wisc. that allows drivers to simply respond to a text from the company’s parking “pay stations” to extend their parking time via cell phone.
The technology works for regular parking spots, and for boat launches and beach passes, and involves, for now at least, 61 solar-powered pay stations with the DPT’s software embedded inside.
Here’s how it works.
You’re in Lake Geneva, and headed to the public beach. You park at a pay station, pop in your credit or debit card, leave your phone number, and you’re off to the sand and surf. The smart station will text you as your parking meter is about to expire and ask if you want to extend your parking time and by how long. The added charge is drawn down from your card, and you can enjoy your day at the beach without worrying about having to feed the meter, or worse, pay up for a parking ticket.
"With a simple text message, Extend-by-Phone removes the anxiety people used to feel about getting back to their car before a parking session expires," explains Alan Menezes, vice president of product management and marketing at Digital Payment Technologies, in a statement. "Not only is this more convenient for consumers, but the city can better ensure compliance with its parking policy."
The parking stations accept credit and debit cards, as well as coins. But you’ll need to hand over your card number if you want to avail yourself of the text message program.
Extend-by-Phone is an interesting technology.
Customers should love the option of parking longer without having to move many muscles, but the technology could fall victim to the law of unintended consequences by severely limiting the number of available parking spaces. If customers keep extending their parking stay, that’s going to leave travelers looking for spaces more frustrated, as the number of available spaces decline.
Lake Geneva officials are already looking past that potential issue.
"As a tourist destination, we needed a parking system that was easy to use and let us manage more than just parking permits," says Dennis Jordan, city administrator for Lake Geneva. "With the ability to extend time via phone and purchase beach passes and boat launch permits at the parking meter, we are providing our visitors with the most convenient parking experience possible."
Convenient, that is, if you can actually get a parking space. Because if you do, it’s going to be easier to keep it as long as you like.