Downtown Tempe installs smartphone system for parking meters

A new phone application will allow drivers to easily pay for parking at Mill Avenue District meters. (Photo by Jenn Allen)

Drivers can now pay for parking in Mill Avenue District meters using their smart phones as of Monday, making Tempe the first Valley city to implement this system.

The program, which allows payments from iPhones and Androids, was started by the Downtown Tempe Community, which teamed up with PayByPhone, a mobile parking payment company.

Nancy Hormann, Downtown Tempe Community executive director and president, said the idea was inspired by other cities such as San Francisco, Portland, Ore., and Seattle. that already have the PayByPhone system.

“Pulling change from the car cushion was becoming obsolete and we needed to change with the times,” Hormann said. “Tempe is cutting edge when it comes to technology and we wanted to keep it that way.”

The free phone application remembers a customer’s credit card information for future payments, Hormann said. If people don’t have a smartphone, they can pay by calling the company.

Hormann said people paying with the app are often concerned when meters do not display the amount of money they enter.

“We want to explain that the amount of money won’t show up on the meter, but it is recorded on the system and on the app,” Hormann said.

Police officers will be equipped with handheld devices that show which meters have time left on them, avoiding unnecessary ticketing, Hormann said.

Tempe is working on another app to show available parking in downtown Tempe, Hormann said.

Tempe senior planner Heidi Graham worked with Downtown Tempe Community to commission the new payment systems.

Graham said Tempe expects the PayByPhone app to be used by visitors, but especially by ASU students.

“Students are the people comfortable with the new technology,” Graham said. “Also, with our close proximity to ASU, we think the app will be something (students) will use.”

Happy High Herbs sales associate Jose Jimenez said the new system would benefit the business and its customers.

He said people come into the shop often to ask for change for parking.

“They get angry when they are waiting in a long line and they have to run out to pay the meter,” Jimenez said.

He said people will be able to have more time to shop without any worries.

“I think this is one example of technology working in our favor,” Jimenez said.

 

Reach the reporter at thaniab@asu.edu

 

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