Tito Jackson: City Councilor wants to explore pay-by-phone parking

These meters outside of City Hall would still operate with coins, but City Councilor Tito Jackson wants to make paying remotely with a smartphone app an additional option.

As she dug around in her purse, holding her baby in her arms, Jeanne searched for quarters to feed the meter in South Boston.

“Hopefully I have at least one quarter,” said Jeanne, who didn’t want to give her last name, before she finally found one buried in her bag. 

“If I could flash my phone and pay for the meter, I would,” she said.

That’s the exact type of innovation City Councilor Tito Jackson is hoping to bring to Boston.
Today, during a City Council meeting, Jackson will request  a future hearing to discuss updating the way to pay for parking.

According to Jackson, the purpose of the hearing would be to explore how the Hub could further modernize parking payment methods by adopting pay-by-phone technologies.

“Intelligent parking is the way of the future,” said Jackson, who first thought of the idea after a visit to Washington, D.C., where  pay-by-phone apps are used to feed the meter.

“We should employ these solutions to make the lives of people in the city better.”

Jackson said the app would allow drivers to use an iPhone, Android or Blackberry device to purchase time, and text alerts would be sent to phones when the meter is running low.

People could also pay the meter without rushing out of a store or restaurant.

“This is truly government 2.0. It’s the direction we should be going,” Jackson said.

The initiative would not wipe out current payment methods, however, it would just add to the options the city already offers drivers, according to Jackson.

A lot to talk about

Before anything moves forward, officials would have to do the following:
Discuss how pay-by-phone apps would impact parking ticket revenue
Explore how cities currently utilize the technology
Meet with the mayor’s office

Never miss a spot

Jackson said he may also want to look into other apps for Hub drivers. He said some cities use a smartphone app that identifies open parking spots to keep drivers from circling the block and cut back on their carbon footprint. 

Calling all innovators

With a host of tech start-ups and the boom of Boston’s Innovation District, City Councilor Tito Jackson hopes local companies would be interested in stepping up to the plate to design mobile application solutions to solve the parking problem.

“We have a huge group of awesome, innovative, next-generation companies that are attracting talent internationally and with all of those bright, young, vibrant individuals we should be able to have our own tech company [help out],” he said.  


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