Monday, July 26, 2010

Paying for Parking with your Cell Phone

I've been out of town for a couple of weeks on vacation, but saw a flyer this morning touting a new way to pay for parking at MBTA lots.

Utilizing the Parkmobile service, you can pay for parking using a credit/debit card and either call, text or use a mobile app on your iPhone or Blackberry (Droid app is coming soon) to provide the space/lot/location of your car.

I think this might be a very convenient option, especially when I don't have the correct bills or change to jam into the slot. And also when I'm running late and barely get the train on time ... I'll have the ability to pay for parking from the train itself. That seems like a win-win.

I started checking out the Parkmobile website, but I'm confused by the transaction fees. I'm curious ... has anyone tried this out yet?


BlueFreak said...

Just tried it this morning, using the interactive voice response 800number. Not terribly intuitive at first (the call took me almost three minutes to complete), although I suspect that it will be a lot faster now that I know what it wants. For example, you need to tell it that you want one "days" of parking (its wording) rather than just answering yes when it asks if you want to park for one "days"). Also, since you're most likely at a noisy train station, you might as well skip to using touch tones for your responses rather than their speech recognition that doesn't do to well.

Of course, I'll have to see if my car was ticketed when I get back this afternoon...

Regarding the transaction fee, the MBTA is paying for it--there is no extra fee on the user side (I suspect that the money they save in having to sort and count cash will more than overcome the transaction fee).

Anonymous said...

As I understand there are no transaction fees for MBTA parking lot users. If you sign up and get to the point where you choose daily or monthly transaction charges, MBTA users should select daily, but it also explains we are exempt from paying them. Good luck!

Christopher Tatro said...

I used it this morning. It's a little confusing because the Parkmobile system seems based on paying for a length of time (day, hour). I hope I did it right. Haven't seen the charge show up on my bank statement yet.

Setting up the account was pretty easy even though MBTA doesn't have a link to Parkmobile on their homepage OR in the News article about the service. So it goes.

I used the mobile web portal as I don't have a smartphone. Tomorrow I'll try the call-in option, and then after that the texting option to see which is easiest.

Anonymous said...

no fees for mbta use (there is a small note on the site) - i've used it twice and it has worked both times. it's nice not to have to find 4 singles!

JB said...

There are no fees for the MBTA lots. When you sign up you need to pick the "per transction" fee setup. The fees are waved and the parking costs the normal MBTA rate.
Here is the snip from the website, read the bottom disclaimer.
"Pay up to $0.35 per parking session (depending on parking location) in addition to the hourly parking fees.This is a good option for less frequent parking. Once you are registered, you can “opt-in” to receive one text message reminder 15 minutes before your parking session expires.(NOTE: PLEASE CHOOSE THIS OPTION IF YOU WANT TO PARK AT MBTA OR WASHINGTON, DC LOCATIONS. YOU WILL NOT BE CHARGED A TRANSACTION FEE FOR PARKING AT ANY MBTA OR WASHINGTON, DC LOCATION WHERE PARKMOBILE IS AVAILABLE.)"

I have the app on my Iphone and it works well so far.