PPA Unveils Smartphone Payment App

It lets you pay remotely. Service begins Thursday in four locations.

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Starting at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, the PPA will offer a nice little bribe to the first 5,000 people who pay for their parking using Philadelphia Parking Authority’s new “meterUP” app: An hour of free parking courtesy of everyone’s favorite governmental authority.

Even if you’re not one of those lucky 5,000 parkers, the meterUP app will still offer some nice deal-sweeteners for those who use it.

PPA executive director Vince Fenerty, PPA senior director of administration and strategic planning Sue Cornell and Neil Edwards, president of app developer Pango, explained this morning how the app will work — and how the PPA and Pango came to develop it — at a press conference at PPA headquarters.

To pay for your parking by phone, you will need to download the meterUP app to your phone;  it comes in iOS and Android versions. When you first launch it, it will play a video explaining how the app works. After that, you will need to enter information about yourself, your car’s license plate number and payment card information.

Once you’ve done that, you’re good to go: When you park in a meterUP zone, pay remotely by opening the app and starting a parking session. Note the zone number on the kiosk sign or meter and enter it manually. Next, specify how much time you want to pay for, up to the posted limits for the spaces in your zone.

The app will warn you when seven minutes remain until your time expires. At that time, you may if you wish choose to extend your session up to the next time limit. If you do, however, the parking rate will be doubled. Cornell explained that this was done to discourage users from using short-term parking spaces for long-term parking.

There’s no cheating, either. If you allow your time to expire then attempt to start a new session in the same zone, the app will notify you that it found a previous parking session and will simply tack the new one onto it at the higher rate.

One benefit: You won’t be allowed to extend your time into free or restricted parking periods. If you park at 7 p.m. and your two-hour metered space becomes free or restricted at 8 p.m., meterUP won’t let you pay for more than an hour. And if you should leave your parking space before the time your authorized payment for expires, meterUP won’t charge you for the unused time (after rounding the time used up to the next block interval).

There’s no need to worry about getting ticketed, either: the PPA meter readers will be informed the moment they attempt to write a ticket for your car with no slip on the dashboard that you paid the fee remotely. If they get ready to write a ticket as you’re extending your time, they’ll be blocked from doing that as well.

On top of all this, meterUP users will receive discounts for local businesses located near where you parked. Edwards explained that this feature was incorporated into the program because “we see a connection between local businesses and parking. We partnered with the PPA because of the vibrant business community” in Center City.

It didn’t cost the PPA a red cent to develop all this. In exchange for taking on the costs of development, Pango gets the revenue from a one-cent convenience fee charged for each parking transaction—”the other bidders charged significantly higher fees,” Cornell said—plus 80 percent of the revenue from the discount coupon advertising program (the other 20 percent goes to the PPA).

Something else the city of Philadelphia is getting out of this partnership: A new corporate headquarters. Edwards said that Pango, currently headquartered in New York, will move its offices to 30 South 15th Street. The company is credited with inventing the first mobile phone parking payment app and currently offers software and services in 60 cities around the world.

MeterUP is being tested in a six-month pilot program in four areas of the city:

  • The territory bounded by 4th, 20th, Arch and Locust streets.
  • Along Columbus Boulevard between Race and Spring Garden streets.
  • At the parking meters at Torresdale Regional Rail station.
  • At the PPA’s parking lot at 8th and Chestnut streets.

There are 267 kiosks and meters in the pilot areas. If the program meets the PPA’s expectations at the end of the six months, it will be rolled out to all 16,000 meters and kiosks citywide. Fenerty said that the app is also designed to be revenue-neutral and that if revenues either fall short of or exceed projections, rate adjustments will be made as the pilot proceeds.

“We also want to hear your feedback about how the app is working,” he said. You’ll be able to give it from within the app or by contacting the PPA.

More information about the app and its use can be found at meterup.xyz or by calling 1-844-meterUP (1-844-638-3787).