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Philly taking another try at pay-by-phone parking

Jason Laughlin, Staff Writer

Updated: Wednesday, August 23, 2017, 2:16 PM

A screen shot from demo video on MeterUp website. This shows MeterUp labeling on the parking kiosk.

The Philadelphia Parking Authority is taking a second pass at a pay-by-phone parking app after the first effort collapsed earlier this year.

The app would allow drivers to pay for parking via smartphone and electronically add time remotely.

This time, the PPA is looking to an established vendor to manage the app, but the convenience of paying for parking remotely is going to cost customers a lot more. The new vendor, ParkMobile LLC, will charge app users 40 cents per transaction. The previous vendor, Pango, charged just a penny per transaction.

The app should be operating by mid- to late fall, PPA officials said. It will initially be available in Center City and adjacent neighborhoods, in University City, and at the Fox Chase, Torresdale, and Fern Rock rail stations.

Pango’s low fee was a reason for the collapse of the app’s first iteration, officials have said. The one-cent fee wasn’t enough to cover the costs of its operation, and Pango wasn’t paying its bills to the PPA. Pango had thought it would be able to build revenue through advertising on the app, but that never happened, and the zones where parking by app was allowed in the city never expanded much beyond Center City.

The PPA is hoping this second attempt will be more sustainable.

“If you come up and feel like [the convenience fee is] too high, you can still pay with a credit card or cash at a kiosk,” said Corinne O’Connor, the PPA’s deputy executive director.

The Atlanta-based ParkMobile’s fees were higher than a number of other bidders for the contract, O’Connor said, but the company has seven years of experience in the United States and provides pay-by-app parking services in a number of other cities, including New York City, Denver, and Washington. Closer to Philadelphia, it provides parking services in Harrisburg and several Shore towns.

The app will have the same name as the previous one — MeterUP — but users will have to download it again to activate it.

Staff writer Tricia L. Nadolny contributed to this article.

Jason Laughlin, Staff Writer

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