New Brunswick

Phone app to take stress out of parking at meters

A phone app being developed by an engineering student at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton could help take the stress out of parking.

Subscribers to HotSpot will be able to add time to their meter using their mobile phone

A phone app being developed by an engineering student at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton could help take the stress out of parking.

The app will enable motorists to add time to their parking meter using their mobile phone from virtually anywhere, said Philip Curley.

Subscribers to 1-800-HotSpot will get a text message warning them when their parking account is running low, he said.

Parking commissionaires will also be able to determine whether an account is paid as they will get an update the moment they punch in the plate number.

"If they see a meter that's still flashing red, they look at their hand-held device and check and see if it has been paid for through HotSpot'" said Curley. "If it has they just simply move on."

Curley, who is working on the project in partnership with Downtown Fredericton, among others, hopes to launch the venture commercially in the new year.

It is expected to be tested as a pilot in Fredericton this summer.

Benefits drivers, municipalities, retailers

Curley also hopes to see a pilot in Saint John. He is scheduled to make a presentation to city council on Monday night.

"The city likes the idea because it simplifies their revenue stream — they're no longer collecting coins," said Curley. "And they actually have some real time awareness of how many spots are occupied, that's nice for them.

"And the downtown retailers like this idea because it is going to increase downtown traffic."

Saint John restaurateur Santos Ruyan, of Taco Pica, agrees parking is a real challenge for uptown business owners.

"Our customers, if they run out of time [on their meter], they get a ticket, they don't come back," he said.

Dave Forestell, of Slocum and Ferris at the City Market, said he feels for his customers.

"We've had lots of people here in a little bit of a panic that will interrupt a conversation, run out and say 'Oh gosh, I've got to run out and plug the meter,'" he said.

The app has "got really interesting possibilities," said Forestell.