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Feed The Meter On Your Phone With The New ParkBoston App

Boston will now offer pay-by-phone services for metered parking spots in some areas. Eventually, the new technology will be implemented in all of the city's meters. (Jp Gary via Flickr)
Boston will now offer pay-by-phone services for metered parking spots in some areas. Eventually, the new technology will be implemented in all of the city's meters. (Jp Gary via Flickr)
This article is more than 4 years old.

Before I could write this, I sprinted outside WBUR to shove 20 dimes into a cold coin-eater out of a fear all-too-familiar to Boston drivers: a brightly colored parking ticket.

The process just got a bit easier in parts of Boston. On Wednesday, the city launched a new pay-by-phone parking app, ParkBoston. The app allows drivers parking at meters in certain areas of the city to "pay for parking, receive reminders before their time expires, and extend their time without having to hurry back to the meter," city officials said in a statement.

Drivers who use the app will be charged a "small convenience fee" of 15 cents, officials said.

“The ParkBoston app is one more way that we are using technology to make transportation easier and more convenient for people in Boston,” Mayor Marty Walsh said in the statement. “Nobody likes digging around for quarters or getting a ticket for an expired meter. This innovation eases the frustration involved with parking and allows for future enhancements to the city’s parking system.”

The pilot area for the ParkBoston pay-for-parking app (Courtesy of the City of Boston)
The pilot area for the ParkBoston pay-for-parking app (Courtesy of the City of Boston)

While the city plans to sync up all of its metered parking spaces to the app, for now only certain spaces in the Back Bay can be paid for with the smartphone app.

Here's the city's description on where these meters are currently located:

Parking meters in an area of the Back Bay, bordered by Beacon Street to the north, Charles Street to the east, Boylston Street to the south and Dartmouth street to the west, will be the first to be programmed to accept payments by phone.

Over the next several months, Boston's roughly 8,000 metered spaces that remain will be programmed to work with the app.

Drivers in the Back Bay should be on the lookout for signs advertising whether or not a parking meter can be paid with a smartphone. Don't worry if you use the app and the actual meter doesn't change its numbers to reflect you've paid — it's not designed to do so. Parking attendants, however, will use your license plate number to search a database indicating whether you've paid.

Here's more in a video that explains how to use the app:

Most metered parking spots in the city only allow drivers to park for a maximum of two hours. A spokeswoman for the city explained that the app has built-in features that recognize when drivers have reached their parking limit and won't let them purchase any additional time in that spot. Drivers would have to move their cars to a new meter.

Are you still thinking it's likely you'll get an annual parking ticket or two trying to get back to your car in that two-hour window? Well, there's an app for that, too. Earlier this week, the Walsh administration also said it was extending a separate pilot program that allows drivers to pay parking tickets through an app.

Boston isn't the first city in the area to launch a pay-by-phone parking app. In November of last year, Somerville began offering a similar service through a partnership with Parkmobile.

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