July 2, 2012

CityScape will add a pay-by-smartphone parking option

The downtown Phoenix retail-and-office complex CityScape is preparing to launch a new way to pay for parking in its underground garage: cellphone.

The smartphone application, PaNGo, was made by an Israeli company, MobyDoM. It is being used by a few workers at the two-block complex at Central Avenue and Jefferson Street for about a month while the developer and PaNGo prepare it for public use.

"The plan is to go live at the end of August," said Jeff Moloznik, general manager of CityScape for RED Development.

Michael Reitblat, vice president of products and services for PaNGo, said the smartphone application lets drivers use a registered bank or credit account to connect with any parking facility or metered spot in the world that works with PaNGo.

Reitblat demonstrated how, by activating the PaNGo virtual meter on a smartphone, a user can open the automated parking gate at a PaNGo-activated lot or garage or use it at a metered spot and immediately begin incurring charges.

When users leave the spot or the garage, they can stop the meter clock. That way, the driver pays only for the time the car was parked.

"This makes parking much easier," Reitblat said.

PaNGo hands control of parking costs to parking-facility owners, which makes it possible for CityScape and other PaNGo-linked lots and garages to charge drivers more during peak parking times, such as when the Arizona Diamondbacks are playing at home at Chase Field or when Phoenix hosts NFL Super Bowl fan festivities in 2015.

MobyDoM has been making deals to use PaNGo with parking companies in countries as far away as Poland. Reitblat said the company also is reaching out to U.S. cities such as Phoenix that own several facilities and maintain metered parking spots.

PaNGo's decision to roll out its pay-by-phone application in Phoenix is timely; the city is shopping for high-tech options to replace its on-street parking meters, which number more than 2,400, and is considering pay-by-phone meters, such as those installed recently in Tempe.

Phoenix officials say the coin-operated meters are outdated; the technology dates to the 1930s.

City officials said Phoenix isn't ready to go meterless yet, since not all drivers have smartphones and can connect to an app such as PaNGo. The city, though, is looking into solar-powered meters and credit- and debit-card-operated meters, as well as and those that allow drivers to pay with a cellphone.

Phoenix has narrowed the search for a contractor from nine companies to four: Cale America of Tampa; Duncan Solutions of Milwaukee; IPS Group of San Diego; and Parkeon of Moorestown, N.J.

The four companies must submit their contract proposals for new on-street meters by July 31.

The City Council is expected to award the contract this fall.

by Emily Gersema - Jun. 26, 2012 05:46 PM The Republic | azcentral.com

CityScape will add a pay-by-smartphone parking option

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