ParkBoston: Pay for Parking on Your Smartphone

No more digging for loose change.

Image via Vimeo

Image via Vimeo

When it comes to public parking in Boston, change is in the air.

During his first-ever “State of the City” address on Tuesday night, which took place at Symphony Hall in front of 2,500 people, Mayor Marty Walsh announced —amongst other things—that the city was rolling out a new mobile app that will let drivers searching for a place to park their car pay for meters using their smartphones.

“Now you’ll have the option of using your phone instead of paying the parking meter with quarters,” Walsh said during his address.

Called ParkBoston, the free app, which was made by North Carolina-based PassportParking, is available on both iTunes and the Android store. To use it, drivers simply have to download the app, sign up and create an account, and save their number into the system.

From there, users can start paying for parking at city meters by tapping in a code and indicating the length of time they plan on staying in a space. If time starts to run out, rather than race back to the car to pop more coins into the meter drivers can extend their stay directly from the app. An alert will be sent to a person’s phone 10 minutes before the parking time has expired.

The pilot program will be up and running in the Back Bay neighborhood beginning Wednesday, January 14, along Beacon Street to the north, Charles Street to the east, Boylston Street to the south, and Dartmouth street to the west, as shown in the map below:



The remainder of the city’s meters will be phased into the system in the coming months, according to the mayor’s office. The cost to park at a meter that uses ParkBoston will be $1.25 per hour, and a 15-cent convenience fee will be added for each transaction.

Special signs indicating where the app can be used will be clearly posted throughout the city, according to a video put out shortly after Walsh announced the new initiative, an idea his administration teased out back in June.

Because the app will be linked up to the city’s Transportation Department’s parking system, officers handing out tickets will be able to plug in a person’s license plate to see if they still have time on the meter.

While certainly innovative, Boston isn’t the first municipality to introduce this type of technology. Back in November, Somerville announced a first-of-its-kind partnership with Atlanta-based ParkMobile, and unveiled a similar smartphone app that lets people pay their meter fares without having to run back to their parking spot to insert more coins.