You know that feeling wMeterhen you look forward to something, it arrives, and it’s so right it just seems like it’s always been there?

Pay-by-phone parking has hit Newton. And, it just works.

Took me under a minute to download the app, get set up, and buy an hour’s parking. (Your mileage may vary.) What’s your experience?

The planning and preparation must have been enormous, so kudos to city staff for what appears to be a very smooth rollout. (See what I said about seeming like it’s always been there.)

The convenience is great, but I’m really looking forward to the collateral benefits: 

  • Reduced cost of collecting and counting coins
  • Space-by-space usage data
  • Enormous flexibility in setting rates

The last point is the most interesting. Market-rate parking fees hold out a lot of promise for making better use of parking spaces (from the perspective of local merchants) and reducing traffic in our commercial areas. If the city were to increase the cost of a prime space by a relatively small amount during periods of peak demand, spaces open up for folks most likely to patronize nearby shops. (Employees and other non-shoppers have an incentive to walk a little farther to a cheaper spot.) With pay-by-phone, it’s a lot easier to trial and then implement market-rate pricing (though it may require first phasing out the coins).


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