Nfld. & Labrador

An app for that: St. John's launches new pay by phone parking plan

The search for spare change could be behind people parking in downtown St. John's as there is a new app in town.

Expired meters could become a thing of the past

City council in St. John's is taking aim at those abusing the broken parking meters. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

The search for spare change could be behind people parking in downtown St. John's as there is a new app in town.

While the pilot project won't make finding a spot any less stressful, it will make paying for one easier.

"There are 136 spaces here on the harbour front and they are going to be pay by phone only," said Coun. Debbie Hanlon.

Debbie Hanlon, the city's lead for Transportation, is looking forward to the new payment option. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

As of June 11 the only way to pay for parking on Harbour Drive will be over the phone. Users can sign up online, download the app or even call it in.

Motorists then plug in the parking spot they find and previously entered banking or credit card information takes care of the payment. 

The City of St. John's is placing a card with instructions on how to get the app on vehicles parked on Harbour Drive. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

The hope is that it will cut down on the number of parking tickets handed out. 

"The excellent thing about this is if you are shopping downtown and you want to stay an extra hour then this app lets you know when your parking is about to expire and it lets you extend it to the maximum time that you can," Hanlon said.

The City of St. John's is employing the services of PayByPhone, a Canadian company already offering its online services in more than 300 cities around the globe.

"No one enjoys the act of the parking," said Megan Smit, PayByPhone's marketing director.

"We want to make it the best possible experience because the reality is, it's not going anywhere."

St. John's may be one the smallest clients for PayByPhone, Marketing Director Megan Smit said the service will be no different than what's offered in bigger cities. (PayByPhone)

PayByPhone can boast clients like San Francisco, Saskatoon and Sheffield, England, but it doesn't mind starting with only 136 spaces in St. John's.

"For us it doesn't matter the size of the city," Smit said.

"It should be the same experience, whether you're in the big, bustling city of New York, or in the city of Vancouver or St. John's."

The city has been struggling to keep the tops on its current parking meters. Last month 64 were vandalized. An online service would mean fewer meters to destroy and help the city collect some money. 

"I am looking forward to the ease of it," said Hanlon

"I am looking forward to the fact we can start collecting money again downtown and I think that it is going to help everyone." 

Hanlon said the move to PayByPhone is a one-year pilot project and if it's successful residents will see the service expand.