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By Anna Lothson
Oak Park is ready to take its parking meter system to the next level with a quicker, more convenient model that will allow users to pay by phone using a credit card.
The village board reviewed a presentation from PassportParking, a smartphone application, or app, that allows customers to pay for parking with the click of a button and a .35 cent convenience fee. The system also allows for people to call a local number to pay for parking instead of feeding meters in areas where there are currently meters.
The capital costs to Oak Park would be about $5,000 for equipment, but Interim Parking Services Manger Jill Velan, said the pay-by-phone option is anticipated to increase revenues that would offset that expense.
The Passport Parking program allows customers to both pay by phone and use credit/debit cards as well as cash for on-street metered parking. It also sends text message reminders when a meter is about to expire and users can reload a meter remotely. The one-time fee per transaction is a cost the village could absorb or pass to the user, but staff recommended the latter.
The system also allows for real-time meter enforcement so the village could ticket users more easily based on a system that tracks what meters are expired.
The proposal was provided to the board in the village manager's report so was not up for an official vote, but the group unanimously agreed the upgraded system was the way to go to increase customer service. It is expected to be formally approved at the board's next meeting.