Parknews.biz led off this morning with that headline. We all know where pay phones went. But parking meters? Not so much
Consider the pay phone. It was what you used when you weren’t at home or at the office. There were convenient boxes on street corners that you could go into, close the door, insert you coin and make your call. Superman was happy to have so many changing rooms. Can you find one today? Where did they go?
Telephone companies realized that replacing and upgrading pay phones was a business downer. They had a full on replacement with the cellphone. Everyone, literally EVERYONE has one, or more. Why would I want to search for a pay phone when I have one in my pocket.
How about parking meters. Well…. Pay by phone companies tout their services, and frankly its coming. But not as fast as any would hope. If 30% of the transactions (read that people who put money in the meters) are pay by phone, its a big number. What do the other 70% do.
Unfortunately the headline writer didn’t care much for reality, but simply was going for a hook to bring in readers. Oh, yes, in a decade or so, smart phones will replace most everything. But in the meantime, T2, IPS, Parkeon, Metric and the rest need not lose a lot of sleep.
The Pay by Phone companies need to come up with a way to cross city boundaries, like the phone company does. If I want to pay by phone in LA, and then in Beverly Hills, and then in Santa Monica and then in Burbank (not that unusual in our fair metroplex) I really don’t want to use four different apps to do that. There are a number of phone companies, but I can call any phone hosted by any company.
Much to the chagrin of some pay by phone companies, in a number of countries in Eastern Europe, the telephone company handles these charges. It goes on your phone bill. No need to sign up with numerous apps.
I also might recommend that the pay by phone companies make it easier to sign up. Let’s say I go to park and want to pay by phone. I have not signed up yet. Its a monstrous task to do so on you smart phone. Enter all that data and then a 15 digit number. Skip it. Why not let a person park without an upfront charge for the first time, have them sign up on line at home, and then charge them when they sign up. If they don’t, their ticket stands and they have to pay it.
I would much rather complete a sign up process at my desk than when sitting in my car late for a meeting.
Pay by phone is coming. But its still a tad clunky. We are all not 14 year old computer nerds…Sometimes its nice just to go somewhere and put in a quarter or stick in your AMEX.