The City of Seattle wants more people paying for parking fees with their smartphone.
Starting this month, the Seattle Department of Transportation will cover the $0.35 parking app fee charged for each transaction by PayByPhone, the company that develops the app.
Seattleites can now pay for parking via the app without being charged the fee. SDOT spokeswoman Sue Romero told GeekWire that the change will cost the city $375,000 in 2017.
“SDOT is absorbing the user fee to promote mobile parking payment as a convenient way to pay for street parking in Seattle,” she said. “The change now puts paying by phone on par with using the pay station.”
Romero said the app helps reduce the amount of pay stations the City needs, as well as associated debt service costs and monthly fees.
“We are using those savings to pay the PayByPhone vendor costs,” she said.
About 14 percent of all parking transactions are paid with the app, which debuted in Seattle four years ago. The City wants that number up to 30 percent by year’s end.
Paying for parking with the app is fairly simple. You set up an account on PayByPhone and enter your vehicle license plate(s), cell phone number, and credit card payment information.
Then, when you’re ready to park, you just enter in the provided location number and duration of time that you’d like to park for.
While you’re away, you can receive a text-message alert reminding you when the meter is about to expire. If you want to refill the meter, you use the app to add time. The app is available on iOS, Android, and also for Apple Watch.
More than 300 cities across six countries use PayByPhone to allow citizens to fill meters without visiting their car or displaying a stub. The app has more than 12.5 million users and processes more than $300 million in parking payments annually. PaybyPhone, which is adding 7,000 users per day, also recently integrated Apple Pay and Android Pay into its app.
In Seattle, PayByPhone does 750,000 transactions per year and is active in 12,000 spaces across the city.
In 2015, the City began installing smart parking meters that adjust price based on demand.
PayByPhone is based in Vancouver, B.C., and its CEO is based in Seattle. The company was just acquired by Volkswagen Financial Services AG.