Paying for Parking in NYC Is About to Get Easier, But Will It Get Smarter?

Last week, Mayor de Blasio and DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg announced the implementation of a new payment option for all of the city’s 85,000 metered parking spaces. By the end of the year, people will be able to pay for parking using a mobile app.

Parkmobile, the likely contractor for DOT's new pay-by-cell parking, will allow users to pay via mobile app or phone call. Image: Parkmobile
Parkmobile, the likely contractor for DOT’s new pay-by-cell parking, will allow users to pay via mobile app or phone call. Image: Parkmobile

Mobile payment is a lot more convenient for drivers than Muni meters and paper receipts. On its own, however, it can’t change the fact that most metered spots are underpriced, which makes it hard for drivers to find open spots and causes a significant share of traffic in commercial districts. The big promise of mobile payment is that can be the spoonful of sugar that helps dynamic meter pricing go down.

Will mobile payment be rolled out at the same time as expansions of Park Smart, DOT’s dynamic meter pricing program? DOT hasn’t tied the two together yet, but the agency did tell Streetsblog that this year, it “will be collecting parking metrics in neighborhoods across the city to build parking profiles which may influence changes that NYC DOT may make in the near future to parking rates and regulation.”

As for how mobile payment will work, the city’s statement last week said that it would be implemented with “no budget impact” thanks to a previously announced NYPD technology update funding the tablet devices needed for enforcement and a “no-cost innovation contract” with the software developer.

According to a DOT spokesperson, the “likely contractor” is Parkmobile. The company’s service, which has been used by municipalities across Europe and North America, enables payment by drivers who register their license plate number and credit card by mobile app or by dialing a 1-800 number. It does not display open parking spots, so drivers won’t be checking Parkmobile on their phones while hunting for a space.

One worry is that mobile payment could be used to tamper with meter pricing. City Council Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez has a bill (Intro. 999), for instance, that would allow drivers to exchange parking time with each another. DOT said mobile payment won’t work that way: “Each driver starts and stops the parking session and pay for time used, it will not give them the option to exchange leftover time with one another.”

  • greenlake101

    It can reduce congestion and increase city revenue: it’s the sensible thing to do. So, knowing how the DOT operates under de Blasio and Trottenberg, it probably won’t happen.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    StreetParking shoukd cost at least 10% more than the local garage. this includes overnight parking . until 1952 it was illegal to park overnight on the public street in NY

  • JudenChino

    And if you park “for free” on a NYC street then your car should be (i) NYS registered and (ii) subject to a residency permit that allows you to park in your residence “area,” for free.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    I am hesitant to support permits for street parking, too much scope for abuse and corruption. Much easier to simply using the pricing mechanism.

  • van_vlissingen

    They’ve created this “Transit Zone” for housing. It should just be a legally defined entity. They can use this for many things – there should only be smart parking with no free overnight parking in the Transit Zone

  • Alexander Vucelic

    Absolutely no FREE overnight Car storage on city streets.

  • reasonableexplanation

    Again; “until 1952 it was illegal to park overnight on the public street in NY” Not entirely true: just in Manhattan.

    As for the 10% over garage cost, I think we may already be there in Manhattan, were you aware of this?

    Below 96th street, the hourly rate for metered parking is $3.50, so if you’re parking for 12 hours (7am-7pm) in midtown, you’d pay $42 for street parking (while still having to feed the meter), or about $25 for a garage (see If you do 24 hours, you’d pay about $35-$45, depending on the garage.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    on First Avenue on UES; much Cheaper to park on street overnight

    on side streets it is free

    on RSD it is free

    etc etc

  • reasonableexplanation

    Making parking paid where it is free is a separate issue, I was under the impression that you were talking about how paid street parking should cost more, per the article being about just that: instituting smart metering.

  • Andrew

    Not entirely true: just in Manhattan.

    Are you saying that, before 1952, it was legal to park on the street overnight in Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Staten Island, but not in Manhattan? That’s surprising.

  • Andrew

    A price of $0 is a price. A discussion of rationalizing the pricing policy of on-street parking can’t possibly ignore the (large majority of) on-street parking spaces priced at $0.

  • reasonableexplanation

    That’s my understanding, although a cursory google search reveals noting but some old capn transit blog posts. If you look at the infrastructure though, it makes sense:a lot of Manhattan’s garages are relics from that era, while the boros don’t have as much in the way of that sort of infrastructure.

  • reasonableexplanation

    Of course! But when discussing pricing for existing metered spots: there’s no need to make them more expensive, since they already surpass garages by a large margin. Personally, I like the midtown model the most for manhattan (the opposite of the ‘no overnight parkign suggestion’) Daytime parking costs money everywhere (or almost everywhere), and in many places is limited to commercial vehicles, while overnight (7pm-7am) is free.

    Lets people keep cars if they use them daily for going somewhere else (like working outside of the city, for example), while discouraging cars idly using up street spots while the owners are at work elsewhere.

    However, extending this policy to the boros can end up being a regressive policy, especially since those who do better financially in the booros often own homes and have their own driveways anyway, while those that are poorer and are renting…don’t.

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