City wants pay-by-phone parking meters

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City wants pay-by-phone parking meters

Dayton drivers may soon be able to feed parking meters downtown using their cell phones and get text messages when their meters are nearing expiration.

The city of Dayton is seeking a vendor to add pay-by-mobile technology to most of its meters. Digital payments would be accepted through a mobile app or a website.

Motorists also would be notified by texts when their meters are running out of time and would be able to extend their parking sessions remotely.

“We recognize the coin only meters are aging out and the city will keep up with replacing them with newer meter technology as necessary,” said Monica Jones, assistant to Dayton’s city manager.

Last year, the city of Dayton finalized a third-party study and assessment of its on-street parking, which made a variety of recommendations to improve the system to be more efficient and customer friendly.

One of the top recommendations was to add mobile payment options.

Most of the Dayton’s 1,300 parking meters are “legacy” technology that accept coins and will need to be upgraded in the near future, according to the city.

But the city has 450 meters that are newer technology and accept credit cards. They are concentrated near the city and Montgomery County government buildings and Sinclair Community College.

Dayton’s center city is welcoming new investments, businesses and residents. But the parking system is hurting redevelopment efforts, according to some city leaders and parking consultants.

Parking and parking enforcement is one of the most common complaints among downtown visitors, workers and residents.

The downtown public parking system is outdated and technologically in need of a major reset, said Michigan consulting firm Carl Walker Inc.

“In short, the on-street parking system is stuck in the past and it needs an overhaul,” according to Carl Walker’s parking system assessment.

The city’s current time limits on parking meters are confusing to customers, and it would be beneficial to change and extend the limits on some meters, the consultant said.

New meter technology can be programmed to offer more flexible time limits, depending on the time of day and day of the week.

The city also may take other steps to try to improve the downtown parking situation and customer experience.

Parking enforcement staff, for instance, do not have digital and wireless ticket writers.

Meter maids upload the citation data at the ends of their shifts. Carl Walker recommended investing in new ticket-writing and tracking technology that provides real-time information.

Also, expired meter fines are $35 in Dayton, but are reduced to $20 if paid within 72 hours.

The consultant recommended lowering the initial fine to be more in line with comparable cities.

The final report “did include exploring changing time limits on meters as well as going to a tiered system for parking fines,” said Jones, with the city. “The city is doing additional analysis on these recommendations before implementing any changes to those aspects of the system.”

This newspaper found that Dayton’s financial penalty for meter violations were more consistent with larger cities rather than medium-sized Midwestern municipalities.

Even with the $15 discount, Dayton’s fine is double what people in Toledo owe initially for an expired meter ($10) and it’s more than tickets in Akron and Canton ($12), according to data collected by this newspaper.

Expired meter fines rise to $20 in Toledo and $15 in Akron after 15 days. Canton’s fine, if not paid, increases to $15.

Dayton’s financial penalty is more like parking fines in Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati.

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