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City Council weighs using text messaging to pay meters

Boston drivers may be able to save their quarters now that city councilors plan to institute a new program that would allow drivers to pay parking meters through text messages.

The Boston City Council discussed a proposal that would allow people to pay parking meters via text message, and discussed problems with un-registered scooters blocking public sidewalks at Boston City Hall Monday.

Boston City Councilor John Tobin (Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, West Roxbury) proposed a plan that will join cell phone companies and the transportation department, allowing Boston drivers to pay parking meters via text message. When people park in a metered spot, they would be able to send a text message to a number linked to the spot to initiate payment and to end payment the person would send another text message to the same number.

These charges would appear on a person’s monthly phone bill, much like the EZPass, Tobin said.

‘I’m hopeful that the folks in transportation will be able to implement SMS [text messaging services],’ he said. ‘Not everyone has bags of quarters.’

The plan would incorporate the recently installed Newbury Street multi-space parking meters, which are kiosks that handle the payment of seven or eight parking spaces, City Councilor Sal LaMattina (East Boston) said.

Boston parking clerk Gina Fiandaca said the transportation department just finished installing 600 more multi-space kiosk meters along Newbury Street.’

Fiandaca said she has met with a cell phone company twice to discuss the integration of text messages and multi-space parking meters.

Tobin and LaMattina also discussed the regulation of un-registered scooters on pedestrian walkways, and options for scooter parking.’

Tobin said in 2008 scooter sales have increased 24 percent.

‘When I first filed this order, gas was $4 a gallon and the weather was warm, but now much has changed,’ he said.’

Tobin said scooters obstruct public walkways and block parking spaces for bigger vehicles.

Fiandaca said if an un-registered scooter is found, it is technically considered an abandoned vehicle and can be towed.

LaMattina said the city must find a way to deal with the scooters.

Committee on Aviation and Transportation deputy commissioner transportation Greg Rooney said on occasion he has towed a scooter and taken it to an impound lot.

‘We have very limited authority to deal with scooter complaints,’ he said.’

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles is considering creating an online database to register all motor vehicles, including scooters RMV official, Charles Walker said. Walker said people who own motorized scooters must have a valid license and adhere to all traffic laws.’ ‘

‘Our database is 20 years old,’ he said. ‘ Technology is moving faster than our laws.’

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