Pay-by-phone parking could come soon for ‘stuck in the past’ Dayton meter system

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 replace most of its parking meters with smart devices that have pay-by-mobile technology. 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.

» RELATED: Downtown Dayton parking, fines under review

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 replaced in the near future, according to the city.

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

» RELATED: Dayton evaluating downtown parking

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

Michigan consulting firm Carl Walker said the city’s current time limits on parking meters are confusing to customers and recommended changing and extending the limits on some meters.

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

Dayton’s center city continues to benefit from a hot and growing housing market, new investments and new businesses, and the parking system needs to update to support redevelopment efforts, city officials said.

The city may take other steps to try to improve the 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.

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

The consultant recommended lowering the initial fine, which he described as higher than some comparable cities.

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

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