D.C. pay-by-phone parking meters introduced citywide

The District of Columbia has rolled out a pay-by-phone payment service for its 17,000 parking meters, the city announced Thursday.

The system, administered by Parkmobile USA, Inc., allows drivers to pay for parking over the phone, Internet or through a mobile application.

Joseph Drayton of Bowie, Md., has registered for the program. "I just put my visa in and it didn't work, so I think pay by phone is a great option,” he said. DDOT Deputy Director Gloria Jeff says more than 30,000 people have already signed up for the service, citing convenience as a main factor.

Mayor Vincent Gray likes the program so much he staged a ribbon-cutting with parking enforcers and the head of Parkmobile, which runs the program.

"I think people are going to register in droves to do this because I mean, who really wants to walk around with quarters in their pockets,” Gray said.

Users register by phone or online with their license plate numbers and credit card. The system automatically recognizes their phone when they access it afterwards.

"You can register five cars and five cellphones, it's like a family program," Albert Boggard said.

Signs on or near the meters note what zone you're in. Users enter that information into their cell phone, in addition to how much time they want to park.

Parking enforcers will check their handheld devices to see if a car’s parking fee has been paid. "That reference number means they will not have to pay the meter and we will not ticket them,” Sandra Watson of D.C.’s parking enforcement said.

If drivers receive a ticket they think is unfair, it’s easy to find out who’s right.

"If you get issued a ticket by chance, you have proof that you paid,” Dayton says.

Parkmobile already administers pay-by-phone systems in London, Amsterdam, Berlin and Athens, among other cities.

Meters throughout the city will still accept coins.

Find out more at Parkmobile's website.

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