Cell phone payments take Tempe parking meters even higher tech - East Valley Tribune: Business

Cell phone payments take Tempe parking meters even higher tech

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Posted: Wednesday, March 7, 2012 9:51 am | Updated: 5:32 pm, Tue Jan 22, 2013.

Downtown Tempe is trying to make it easier to park in the area by letting visitors pay parking meters with a cell phone.

As of Monday, drivers can pay via phone and even get an alert when the meter is about to expire. This is one of several parking changes taking place at the same time, along with expanded hours that meters operate and the addition of more meters that accept credit card payment.

All of the 500-plus meters let drivers pay with a cell phone. Smart phone users can download an app at www.paybyphone.com, while other cell phone users can call a number posted on the meter to make a payment.

The Downtown Tempe Community operates the meters. DTC executive director Nancy Hormann said she expects about 15 percent of drivers will pay by phone.

When time is about to run out on a meter, an alert will be sent to the user’s cell phone and allow the person to add time without returning to the meter. Hormann tested the pay-by-cell feature herself on Monday and advised visitors that meters won’t display how much time has been purchased via phone.

“The meter will show it’s expired but the enforcement officer will have a thing that says it’s not,” she said. “We don’t want people to freak out that the meter doesn’t change. If you pay it and you have a confirmation, you’re good.”

Also, the DTC added 178 meters that accept credit cards, following a test of 71 meters that were installed in May 2011. The new meters were placed in the most high-demand areas, including along Mill Avenue, Fifth Street, College Avenue and some side streets. About 35 percent of payments are now being made by credit card, Hormann said.

The new meters that take credit cards will now allow drivers to park for 2 hours, up from the old 80-minute limit. And their hours of operation will expand to 10 p.m.

The remaining 343 meters will increase their time limit to 3 hours. They will continue operating from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Parking costs $1.50 an hour.

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