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City seeks mobile parking app partner

Thunder Bay looking to implement system that would allow motorists to pay for parking at 1,100 meters and seven parking lots using their mobile device.
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Parking Meter
Parking meters in Thunder Bay currently take coins or meter cards, but motorists may soon also be able to use their mobile phones to pay for on-street parking. (Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com)

THUNDER BAY – Fumbling for change to feed the parking meter might finally be a thing of the past in Thunder Bay for many motorists.

The city’s parking authority has issued a request for proposals aimed at introducing a pay-by-phone app that would allow drivers to use mobile technology to cover on-street parking costs at any of its 1,100 meters, as well as at seven city-owned lots.

Jonathan Paske, the parking authority supervisor, said he hopes the service could be in place by the summer.

The city would be catching up with municipalities around the world that offer mobile-phone payment options.

“It has been around in other cities for a while now,” Paske said on Friday. “We’ve gotten some push from the merchants in both of the downtown cores that are looking for this kind of technology.”

While Paske said he hasn’t had many requests from the parking public, with more and more people going cashless these days, it makes a lot of sense.

“A lot of people don’t carry as much cash or coins as they used to,” Paske said.

“Our meters do accept meter cards, which is kind of like a re-loadable gift card, so that’s becoming more and more popular. Those options will still be around, but this will be one more convenient option for those who want to pay with a credit card on their phone and not have to plug a meter card in to a meter.”

Piaske said implementing the system will likely have an impact on parking-ticket revenue, as drivers will have one more way of avoiding the $25 penalty. The estimated parking-ticket haul for 2018 was $710,000.

No change to existing meters will be necessary, though signage will have to be installed throughout the city to instruct the public how the new system works.

Paske said they are looking for a no-cost or low-cost solution through the RFP.

Parkades would not be included under the mobile-pay system, which must be approved by city council. A  report is expected to be brought forward in the spring. 





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