Say goodbye to parking meters in downtown Birmingham
Don't you just hate it when you overfeed the parking meter? Or you don't feed it enough, and come back to a parking ticket? Today, we use our smart phones for just about everything. Why not use them to pay for parking? Birmingham city leaders are exploring ways to do just that. Today, they heard presentations from two companies with technology that would allow customers to pay for parking using their phones. They could even reserve parking spots for future dates.
"Nobody carries around sacks of quarters anymore. It's time for parking to move into the 21st century in Birmingham, Alabama," says District 5 Councilman and Transportation Committee Chair Darrell O'Quinn.
City leaders say it's also a way for Birmingham to increase parking revenue.
"If it's a big event coming to town, like the World Games and people come with their smart phones. We extend parking for that period of time, that's more money in the city's coffer," says District 9 Representative, John Hilliard. He is also Chair of Economic Development.
Right now, there are roughly 45-hundred parking meters in downtown Birmingham. But, the city is losing money that could go into its budget. There are multiple meters that are broken. The city currently allocates about $35-thousand dollars a year for maintenance of meters. But, the modern pay options means the city won't need physical meters at all -- just parking signs. The benefit to customers? No more expired meters. And, the ability to pay just about anywhere.
But, with this 21st century convenience comes the possibility of paying for parking in areas you currently do not have to.
"As the city grows we can expand through the clouds," says Councilman Hilliard. "So if Ensley, North Birmingham, West End, or wherever. We can have invisible meters."
It would take only about one month to implement the parking options. Officials say it would cost zero dollars to the city.
The two parking companies city leaders heard from today are ParkMobile and Pay-By-Phone. Proposals will go before the full city council before decisions are made.
For now, officials say they will still keep the meters and use them as an option for customers.