The City of Atlanta announced last week that its widely loathed parking subcontractor, PARKatlanta, will do what other companies have done for years: accept payment via cell phone. By February 2014 you will be able to download a free app and pay for parking using your phone. The pay-by-phone system is offered via Parkmobile USA, an Atlanta-based company that operates pay-by-cellphone parking programs in more than 500 cities.
The good news: You will be able to add time to your parking while finishing a meal or shopping without having to run out to the curb to stuff a meter with spare change. The bad news: You have to pay to pay; there will be a 35-cent charge every time you use the system. The mobile payment system is meant to complement existing payment methods, so all other options will still be valid.
Just about every metro area resident who has parked a car in the city has a personal horror story about PARKatlanta. There is even a Facebook page, “Fire PARKatlanta,” dedicated to criticism of the company. Mayor Kasim Reed told Creative Loafing last month that PARKatlanta’s contract is likely to not be renewed when it ends in 2016. So the end may be in sight—if you have really good vision. There is no way that this mobile payment option can right every one of PARKatlanta’s wrongs, but at least it isn’t going to make things less convenient for the next three years.