DVA pushes parking meter options

The Downtown Vernon Association will ask city council to initiate mobile payment, or PayByPhone, for parking meters.

Dialing for a parking spot is ringing up interest.

The Downtown Vernon Association will ask city council Monday to initiate mobile payment, or PayByPhone, for parking meters.

“You don’t know if the idea works until you try it,” said Mayor Akbal Mund.

“I’d say, try 50 per cent of the meters on 30th Avenue for a trial period.”

DVA officials insist PayByPhone is a cost-effective way to address parking concerns downtown.

“By offering the PayByPhone option, clients visiting downtown will have the ability to pay for parking easily and customers will not need to have change for the meters,” said Lara Konkin, executive director, in a letter.

“They will also be able to conveniently add money to the meter without having to get up from the table or leave in the middle of an appointment or meeting to plug the meter. By using PayByPhone, customers will be notified before the meter expires, helping to reduce the frustration of receiving a parking ticket.”

There would be a cost if the city uses the service.

Among the costs would be a one-time set-up fee of $1,500, a monthly minimum of $100 (it’s waived after three months if the transaction volume is covered) and a credit card authorization charge (the city’s own credit card processing merchant account fee will also apply).

There would also be a 25 cent fee paid by the vehicle operator per transaction.

“Existing meters will not require any additional expensive hardware,” said Konkin.

“Initially, there could be minimal revenue loss while bylaw enforcement officers become familiar with the new system. However, we are confident PayByPhone will actually increase revenue long-term with people paying for an extended period of time at the meters. Although integration of PayByPhone software with the current system is required, we do not foresee this to be a problem as it has been successfully implemented in many cities without issue.”

While he is willing to consider a trial period, Mund has some reservations about phone parking.

“I don’t know if there is a demand in a community our size for this,” he said.

“How many people would use the technology? Does it warrant the changes?”

Mund says there’s also a need to consider the age of people frequenting downtown.

“Vernon has the oldest demographic in the Okanagan. How many people scan a code or flash it?”