Just pull our your smartphone, press a few buttons and your parking fee is paid.
A new mobile payment app called Honk was launched in downtown St. Catharines on Monday. It lets users search, pay for and top up parking from their phone or tablet.
An area that includes 130 parking spots in the downtown is part of the initial pilot program. Included are all of the spots in the Market Square lot, as well as a few metered spots along Market Street and James Street, from Church to King streets.
Mayor Walter Sendzik said the app could be expanded to other parking areas in the downtown, and in Port Dalhousie, based on its success. Users will be surveyed on issues such as ease of use, and the city will collect data on number of users and revenue generated via the app.
“It will provide us a way to make it even easier to pay for parking,” said Sendzik.
The app is free to download, but a 35-cent surcharge will be added to each transaction by Honk, to cover credit card and other processing fees, said Honk CEO Michael Back. One hour of parking will cost Honk users $1.85; three hours will cost $4.85.
In each parking area, bylaws will be respected, he said. Market Square has a three-hour limit, so users won’t be allowed to buy or top up a greater amount of time.
Parking can still be paid for the traditional way, with coins or a credit card.
The app uses GPS technology to locate parking zones. And individual street meters have an identification number to key into the app.
A text is sent 15 minutes before your time expires so you can load more time without having to walk to the meter, said Back.
Parking enforcement officers will have another app on the phone they already carry to check licence plates for expiration times if they don’t see a paper parking permit.
Officers will not receive phone alerts when individual vehicles have exceeded their time limit, said Mia Brown, director operations at Honk. They will have to patrol streets and lots using old fashioned legwork, she said.
Back said the app will increase compliance, and thus parking revenues, because it’s easier to top up.
In 2015, the city received $720,392 in revenue from parking violations, said billing manager Lisa Read. Likewise, parking revenue from the Market Square lot brought in $165,025.
Honk is a Canadian company that services 2,000 locations mostly across Canada, including cities, universities and private lots. It will soon be offering service in London, Ont. The reservation part of its service is not being offered in St. Catharines.
The Honk app can be downloaded on both iOS and Android at www.honkmobile.com or via the App Store and Google Play.
Source: Welland Tribune