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Boston expands parking app to entire city

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh announced that ParkBoston, an app that allows users to remotely pay parking meters, will now include all Boston parking meters. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY ANN SINGER/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh announced that ParkBoston, an app that allows users to remotely pay parking meters, will now include all Boston parking meters. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY ANN SINGER/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

An application that allows drivers to pay parking meters with their mobile phones rather than scrounging for quarters in their car became available for use in all of Boston’s neighborhoods as of this past Wednesday, according to a Wednesday release from Boston Mayor Martin Walsh.

The app, called ParkBoston, has been in a nine-week pilot stage since Jan. 13 in Back Bay, and will be fully implemented in all of Boston’s neighborhoods by the end of summer 2015.

“Thousands of Bostonians have already embraced this new and convenient technology, and expanding this service throughout the city will make the experience of paying for parking easier for each and every user,” Walsh said in the release.

To date, the ParkBoston app has been downloaded over 15,000 times since its January release and has been used for parking transactions over 12,000 times in the pilot area of the Back Bay, the release stated.

The expansion of ParkBoston will happen in three phases. Each phase will install the technology in a different area of the city, until all neighborhoods are ParkBoston friendly, the release stated.

Jessica Robertson, transportation planning and policy specialist of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, said the program has had success in Washington, D.C., and she expects it will bring similar benefits to Boston.

“The advantage for users is that it gives them another option to pay, and you don’t have to carry around a pocket full of quarters anymore,” Robertson said. “You can be sitting in a restaurant eating lunch, get a text message or alert from your phone about your parking time expiring, and decide to stay for dessert and pay remotely for your parking.”

Robertson said the city will benefit from this app with both revenue and observance of parking regulations.

“With conventional meters, if someone decides to stay for dessert and they have to get up to feed the meter, they may decide to do that or they may not,” Robertson said. “It’s much more of a hassle, and people are less likely to get up and pay their meters.”

Robertson said MAPC was able to get these services at large discounts, making this a financially feasible choice for Boston’s Transportation Department. In addition to the discount, Robertson said the implementation of this app might eventually lead to lowered operational costs for parking in Boston.

“It’s also good for the city if they’re getting fewer quarters because it decreases operational costs,” she said. “They don’t have to collect the quarters as often, won’t have as many meters jamming, and the wear and tear on the equipment will be decreased.”

Several Boston residents said they are supportive of the citywide expansion of the app and excited to see the transportation department making innovative improvements.

Wonmi Jung, 21, of Fenway, said the app will be beneficial to those visiting Boston for the first time.

“Tourists who come from out of town could really use this service to pay for their parking,” Jung said. “It would be easy for them since they’re the ones who are walking around the most, and it would be hard for them to go back and pay all the time or if they don’t have the change.”

Chloe Brisson, 21, of Fenway, said she likes the idea of the app even though it does not affect her directly.

“I don’t drive in Boston but for all the people who do, I can see this being a godsend,” she said. “It’s always so annoying to have to find those quarters in the bottom of your bag. I just hope that the use of this app doesn’t put any people out of work who collect the quarters or work on the parking meters.”

Andrew Gould, 31, of Back Bay, said he has heard about the app’s success through its pilot program.

“It seems like it went well in the pilot program, so I think it’s a good idea to expand it if so many people are using it,” he said. “I can see how it could be very useful, so if it brings in money for the city without charging people any more, I’m all for it.”

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