PPA Mobile App Taking Shape

Feed the meter with your smartphone.


Philadelphians should be getting a lot less of these soon.

It’s not every day (or any day, really) that I find myself saying good things about the Philadelphia Parking Authority. Yes, it’s got a rep as a tyrannical organization that shows no remorse (or mercy) with its monopoly on parking tickets and towing in the city. But, the PPA is working hard on a mobile app that will allow users to pay for parking at meters or in lots with their smartphones — and that’s got to be applauded.

On Thursday, the PPA announced a partnership with Pango to deliver the new payment option. The PPA said it was selected from five vendors and allows the PPA to share in advertising revenue generated from the app.

During a six-month trial program, the mobile app will cover parking between 4th and 20th Streets, and between Arch and Locust Streets. It will also be available on Columbus Blvd. from Spring Garden to Race Streets and at two parking lots — the Torresdale Rail Station lot and the 8th and Chestnut Street lot.

“The proposal from Pango provided the best consumer price, one cent per transaction, to encourage the highest level of participation,” said PPA Executive Director Vince Fenerty. “We believe the low cost and convenience of this app will greatly improve the convenience of paying for on-street parking in Philadelphia.”

I hate PPA just as much as the next guy, but this is a much-needed step forward for a city that’s long been known as a parking nightmare.

But will it get pushback from City Hall? In early May, reports surfaced that the Nutter administration was hoping to delay the rollout of the app because funding from parking tickets goes to the school district. Andrew Stober, with the mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities, said the mayor wants to hold off on the rollout until its impact on the schools is studied.

Are you freaking kidding me? Fewer parents will get fewer tickets, meaning more money for families and more money dumped back into the economy. I’m sorry, but you can’t stop innovation and progress, even if you try.

Here’s a little more detail on the Pango agreement from a PPA statement:

Under the proposed agreement, Pango will cover the cost of credit/debit card processing fees, wireless data plans for parking enforcement devices, all signs and decals with instructions on the use of the app as well as marketing to local businesses. This will reduce the cost to the Authority to insure that payments to the City and School District from the On-Street Parking program are not jeopardized.