by Yolanda Vazquez
From back up cameras, to self-parking cars, today’s world is all about convenience. Yet hunting for change for a parking meter is anything but. Luckily, Yolanda Vazquez has found a much smarter way, in this week’s FYI.
YOLANDA VAZQUEZ: No more fumbling around for change, or feeding meters with coins. Smart phones are about to revolutionize the way we park. Companies like Atlanta-based Parkmobile, which has a strong presence in Washington DC and along the East Coast, are looking to take the headache and hassle out of parking, with their easy to use, pay by phone parking system. But they’re not the only ones in the game.
Maryland based Pango Mobile Parking draws upon their many years of experience servicing hundreds of thousands of customers in Europe, by bringing their smart parking service to the States.
DANI SHAVIT: We’re providing a convenient, and a very easy, smart solution for payment for parking.
YOLANDA VAZQUEZ: CEO, Pango Shyyny U.S.A., Dani Shavit explains how it works. Users must first sign up online, registering their vehicle, license plate number, and credit card information. They then download Pango’s free app on their phone. When they’re ready to park, they type in their zone number displayed on the meter, and hit the start button.
DANI SHAVIT: That same moment, you will get a virtual meter on the screen. That shows you that you’re parked in Latrobe, in zone 70101…
YOLANDA VAZQUEZ: A text message also appears, confirming the activation of your parking session.
YOLANDA VAZQUEZ: So it’s ticking, it’s going?
DANI SHAVIT: Now you may close the application, and go to your errands.
YOLANDA VAZQUEZ: When you’re done, simply hit the stop button. You’ll get a recap of your parking activity, along with the charges. And if by chance you don’t have a smart phone, no worries… There’s a toll free number to call.
The company recently signed a contract with city of Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Pango stickers where placed on the existing coin meters as an additional payment option.
ALEX GRAZIANI: As a smart phone user, we wanted to see if there was a way we could do better, and provide another choice for parking in town.
YOLANDA VAZQUEZ: City manager Alex Graziani says the high tech tool takes a little getting used to. But he’s seen an uptick in the number of users and hopes other cities will follow Latrobe’s lead.
ALEX GRAZIANI: Part of this is trying to put this community on the map, and say, hey, we’re willing to behave, if you will, like a business, and be entrepreneurial. And try to embrace technology in a smart way, that again limits our investments in it, but maximizes convenience for the users.
YOLANDA VAZQUEZ: Perpetual parker Nancy Kukovich explains what life was like prior to Pango.
NANCY KUKOVICK: It was not good.
YOLANDA VAZQUEZ: The Latrobe resident received her fair share of parking tickets. Now she parks, pays only for the time she needs, and doesn’t worry about visits from parking enforcement officers.
NANCY KUKOVICK: It’s just been fantastic. I’ve had one ticket since then, because I forgot to turn it on. But other than that, I’m ticket for free for two or three months.
YOLANDA VAZQUEZ: While pay by phone parking apps are the latest technology available to consumers, Graziani says parking solutions may become so advanced, that these meters could become obsolete.
ALEX GRAZIANI: With smart phones, and smart cars, technology will move to car based pay systems, and the meters will go away.
YOLANDA VAZQUEZ: Shavit doesn’t think it will come to that, but he does see more municipalities and parking systems, like this garage in New York City, adding on their services.
DANI SHAVIT: I believe during next two years, most cities in U.S. will adopt pay by phone.
YOLANDA VAZQUEZ: As the demand for cashless payment increases---it’s clear things are about to change in the once, coin-driven metered parking world.