Cell phones used to pay for parking in Latrobe
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Latrobe city officials unveiled plans Tuesday to allow residents to pay for parking using mobile phones.
Along with representatives from the "Pay by Phone" parking service Pango Shyyny USA LLC, Latrobe officials hosted a launch ceremony Tuesday to demonstrate the use of the new parking service.
The initiative -- Pango's first in the United States -- allows smartphone users to use a mobile parking application to record and pay for parking, while regular cell phone users may access the same service by texting or calling the company.
Latrobe City Manager Alex Graziani and Pango CEO Dani Shavit said the new parking system will make parking easier for both the city and its residents.
"We're giving customers another option to pay for parking," Mr. Graziani said.
"Just like you can pay with credit card or cash at most restaurants, now you can pay for parking with either coins or through Pango. Our hope is that this technology will create another convenient way to park in Latrobe ... Five or ten years down the line, mobile parking services will likely replace metered parking."
After registering with Pango, motorists will record parking through demarcated zones, Mr. Graziani said, which will indicate where in the city they are parking and for how long they are allowed to stop.
Upon returning, motorists can stop the application or text Pango to end payment.
Aside from the 17 percent that will go to Pango, the city will receive the rest of the revenue from mobile parking payments.
To help residents adjust to the new system, Mr. Shavit said Latrobe has installed 72 street signs throughout the city notifying drivers of parking zones, pricing rates and Pango registration requirements.
In addition to benefiting drivers, Mr. Graziani and Mr. Shavit said Pango also will allow city officials to amass data on where and how people park, adding that local businesses will be able to partner with Pango to sync coupon offerings with parking locations.
As well, Mr. Shavit said that the new technology makes it easier for cities to expand parking offerings by eliminating the cost of meters.
After two years of using Pango, the city of Raanana, Israel, added 5,500 parking spaces, Mr. Shavit said, and increased its revenue fourfold.
"Pango is representative of where our town is heading, a community that embraces the best of technology," Mr. Graziani said.
"A few years ago I never thought I'd even be using a smartphone, let alone doing so much more with it."
Pango, which began five years ago in Israel and has amassed roughly 700,000 customers in Europe, now hopes to expand further in the U.S., Mr. Shavit said.
The company is currently in talks with other cities, but the company began with Latrobe because there were fewer bureaucratic hurdles in the smaller city, he said.
First Published June 7, 2012 5:02 am