High-tech mobile app aims to ease parking headaches

SEATTLE - In an effort to make parking high-tech, the City of Seattle has launched a new way to pay for parking in Seattle.

The City is utilizing PayByPhone, a service that allows drivers to pay for parking via smartphone.

"Just by using your phone, it's now faster and easier to pay for parking in Seattle," said Mayor Mike McGinn. "We're deploying technology to make it more convenient for people to visit downtown and our neighborhood business districts."

To utilize the new on-street pay method, drivers first need to download the free PayByPhone app, create an account, and provide credit card information. Drivers can also call 1-888-515-7275.

After parking, drivers must enter the location number located on the closest pay station, choose the correct vehicle license plate number, desired length of stay, and confirm your payment.

Stickers are no longer necessary, and receipts can be viewed online.

Seattle Police Department Parking Enforcement Officers now have mobile equipment to check license plates to see if the vehicle is out of time on that specific block.

"If we can't access the site, we can't verify the information. We are not going to cite, but right now we've tested it out and we have the connectivity," William Edwards, Parking Enforcement Section Director, says.

When time is about to run out on the meter, the app sends an optional text message to your phone. This alerts users so they can feed the meter, if time is available, without getting up.

Parking rules still apply, so you can remotely feed the meter after the maximum times has expired.

"After you've bought time and your time is expired, you can't repark for 30 minutes and you need to move off the block that's consistent with the pay station rules as well," Mary Katherine with the Department of Transportation says.

Signs went up on each participating pay station Thursday afternoon. Block numbers are key to how it works, and you must use the unique location number of the side of the street you're parked.

For now, PayByPhone is limited to Seattle's downtown retail core between Stewart and Senaca, and First and Ninth.

The city is confident that PayByPhone is safe, utilizing encrypted technology. It adds a $0.35 fee per transaction, and each transaction is charged in real time. The City does not store or retain your credit card number.

"We're very excited to bring the convenience of PayByPhone parking payments to Seattle," said Barrie Arnold, chief commercial officer of PayByPhone. "Local businesses, shopkeepers, cafes and restaurants in Seattle will all benefit as their customers can more easily pay and better avoid a parking ticket."