Minneapolis Pushing 'Pay by Cell Phone' for On-Street Parking Spots

Updated: 01/28/2014 7:51 AM
Created: 01/26/2014 8:58 PM
By: Stephen Tellier

No coins, no cards, and maybe most importantly, no standing in the cold punching in your space number. You may soon be able to pay for on-street parking in Minneapolis using a cell phone.

It makes feeding the meter look incredibly old-fashioned: paying for parking via cell phone.

Instead of swiping your card and punching in at pay stations, you either call a phone number or use an app linked to your credit card.

"I live in Minneapolis, and the parking can be frustrating at times," said Kerry Norling, who parked in a privately-run garage that's already equipped with pay-by-phone parking.

She said she noticed the green signs that advertise the pay-by-phone option as she drove in, but just figured she could do it the old-fashioned way. 

She's not alone -- only a small percentage of people who park there actually pay by phone. But the City of Minneapolis wants the option available for all of its on-street spots.

"That would be great. if I could just get on my phone and put in my credit card from the warmth of my car," Norling said.

And the temperature isn't the only tempting benefit.

Let's say you pay for two hours of parking, but you get stuck working late at the office. A text would be sent to your phone telling you your space is about to expire, and you could add time to your space from the comfort of your desk.

The convenience does come with a catch. Most pay-by-phone companies charge a transaction fee on top of the parking fee -- an extra $0.35 when we tried it out.

On Tuesday, a city council committee is expected to take the first step towards finding a company to implement the plan, and officials expect it to be fully rolled out by fall 2014. 

Minneapolis officials say the cost to the city to implement the program would be minimal, and participation, optional -- you could still swipe your card at those pay stations, if you prefer.

Several other U.S. cities already allow folks to pay for parking by phone.

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