Parking in Somerville Just Got Easier

People can now pay for meters without ever reaching for a quarter.
Image via ParkMobile

Image via ParkMobile

Change can be good, but when it comes to parking at a meter, it’s usually just a hassle.

To help residents and visitors in Somerville avoid the headache of scrounging for quarters underneath their car seats, officials announced this week that beginning November 24, drivers will be able to pay for parking at every metered space in the city by using a smartphone.

Somerville has teamed up with Atlanta-based ParkMobile to launch a new smartphone app—it’s available for iPhone, Android, Windows, or Blackberry devices—that lets people pay their meter fares without having to run back to their parking spot to insert more coins.

“For people running errands, shopping in our stores, eating in our restaurants, and more, it means the end of hoarding quarters in your cup holder, trying to find a place near the meter to break a $1 bill, or rushing out mid-meal to feed the meter,” said Mayor Joe Curtatone in a statement. “For our businesses, it means that it will be even more convenient for people to visit their stores, offices, and restaurants.”

To access the pay-by-phone function, all users need to do is either download the app, or register with a credit card on ParkMobile’s website. The information will be stored in the system, and ready to go anytime a person pulls into a spot to park.

According to a press release from the city, each parking meter will have a ParkMobile sticker that includes a number and a QR code, as well as directions. Users can enter the number into the app, or scan the code, and simply punch in how much time they want to add to the meter. After that, a countdown timer that can be viewed on the person’s phone will be activated, and in the event that they need additional time they can add it remotely.

Suzanne Rinfret, Director of Traffic and Parking in Somerville, said the project is an extension of the recent changes to how residents apply and pay for parking permits online. “It also brings the convenience of paying for parking meters with a credit card to the whole city in a cost-effective and efficient way by utilizing technology that many people already carry in their pockets,” she said.

Boston has been working on its own solution to people’s parking woes by developing their own pay-by-phone app, something City Councilor Tito Jackson has been advocating for for more than two years. While Boston doesn’t have the app available yet, the city did recently make paying for parking tickets more seamless, when they teamed up with local startup TicketZen. That partnership and pilot program lets residents and visitors pay their pesky parking citations without ever having to go to City Hall.

Somerville officials said the city is the first in the Greater Boston area to offer this type of technology to drivers.


Steve Annear Steve Annear, Digital Writer at Boston Magazine sannear@bostonmagazine.com