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Few drivers use Parkmobile app for parking in St. Petersburg

After entering the Parkmobile code found on a meter, the phone app deducts the parking fee, plus a service charge, from a registered credit card. Later, the app also texts the user when time is expiring. The parking time is not unlimited — you can only pay up to the meter’s maximum.

CHERIE DIEZ | Times

After entering the Parkmobile code found on a meter, the phone app deducts the parking fee, plus a service charge, from a registered credit card. Later, the app also texts the user when time is expiring. The parking time is not unlimited — you can only pay up to the meter’s maximum.

ST. PETERSBURG — Pocket change still trumps credit cards when people feed parking meters on downtown streets.

Since launching an electronic service to pay for parking in November 2010, the city has collected $120,392 from people who used credit cards.

That represents about 5 percent of the $2.4 million in parking revenue the city collected for that period through June.

"It was never our goal to have pay-by-cell replace coin, it's just an option," said Evan Mory, the city's parking manager. "Consumers like choices. We hear a lot of compliments . . . so we consider it a very successful program."

More than 18,000 drivers have used the service more than 75,000 times. One driver has used it 266 times.

The most popular meters among credit card users are along Beach Drive NE and around the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

In May, the city collected almost $12,000 from the service. Of that, Beach Drive drew $2,412, while USF St. Petersburg collected $2,043.

Drivers can pay using a cellphone app or via the Internet. The app will send a cellphone message when the meter is close to expiring, allowing the customer to add more money.

St. Petersburg partnered with Parkmobile USA for the service and initially spent $3,000 to affix stickers on meters. Drivers pay Parkmobile a fee of 35 cents each time they use the service or $1.75 per month plus 25 cents per session for frequent users.

Mory said the service is about convenience more than anything else.

He thinks it caters to people who prefer credit cards over cash and to people simply caught without change when parking.

Mark Puente can be reached at mpuente@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8459. Follow him on Twitter at @markpuente.

Few drivers use Parkmobile app for parking in St. Petersburg 07/10/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 10, 2012 2:08pm]
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