Seattle launches pay-by-cellphone parking

by: Essex Porter Updated:


SEATTLE - The city of Seattle today launched pay-by-phone parking in the downtown core. Parkers we met were anxious to try the system. "That sounds more convenient and probably more in line with how people do anything these days," said Tony Alvarado of Tukwila.

Customers can use a smartphone app, a website or a toll-free number to register their car in the system. Their credit card will be charged when they pay for parking.

Click here to download the PayByPhone app >>>

The system also allows customers to extend their parking time without returning to their car, a feature loved by Greg Wirth of Duval, "You're down to dinner; you're walking the market or what not, who has time to come back, check the car?"

But there are expenses for the city. Because the system makes paying for parking so easy, fewer people are expected to get parking citations. That could cost upwards of a million dollars in the first full year of operation. And the city had to hire eight additional parking enforcement officers to help handle the work of checking whether cars that no longer have stickers have paid for parking.

But Mayor Mike McGinn notes that making parking easier will lead to more downtown shoppers, generating more sales tax revenue, "We want people to come downtown, a vibrant, thriving downtown is good for our city's overall budget too."

Details of how to use the system can be found on the city's website.

The system serves our city where many Microsoft employees live, but the company that runs the system, PayByPhone, has not developed an app for the Windows Phone.

"When the public speaks, I'll listen, said McGinn, "We'll go talk to them about getting a mobile app for a Windows phone as well."