Pay-by-phone parking hits Oak Park Oct. 7

New system allows users to pay meters with credit card

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By Anna Lothson

Staff Reporter

Don't worry about digging up enough change to feed parking meters in Oak Park come Oct. 7 — the cashless option allowing users to pay via credit card or a smartphone app will be ready.

The new pay-by-phone options aims to make more than 4,000 public spaces throughout the village more convenient by allowing people to use the app or by calling a toll-free number to pay via credit card. The system will also send users text message reminders 15 minutes prior to the expiration of their parking session and allow them to pay for more time remotely.

"We are thrilled to introduce mobile payment technology throughout Oak Park," Jill Velan, Oak Park's interim parking and mobility services manager, wrote in a news release. "Mobile payment is the future of parking, and we believe the vendor we chose offers the easiest to use and most convenient system available."

The new service is provided by PassportParking, a company that already provides services in places like Brookfield, Desplaines, Downers Grove, Glenview, Harvard, Morton Grove, Oak Lawn and Villa Park, as well as in privately owned parking facilities in several major cities.

Velan said reports from other communities show the use of pay-by-phone parking has increased parking revenues simply because people are paying the meters more; that increase is credited to the text message reminders. It will take some time before Oak Park will be able to determine the new system's impact on Oak Park's parking fund.

To use the system, customers register via the free PassportParking Mobile Pay app or voice telephone system. The app is available for both iPhone and Android users. Simple registration instructions are located near each parking site.

Motorists can then use the mobile payment option with the app, call a toll-free number or text the zone and space information posted at the parking site. A valid credit card is required to use the system and a 35-cent fee is applied for the initial transaction. That "convenience fee," as it's described, is a one-time fee while a car is parked in a specific spot during that day. That fee goes toward PassportParking, not the village.

The system costs toward the village are minimal, Velan reported, with the total costs being just under $5,000. She explained a majority of this cost is because the village needed to purchase smartphones for parking enforcement officers to track the meters.

Having the enforcement officers equipped with smartphones, however, will allow the officers to be more efficient, Velan said, because they can easily see which meters have been paid for by credit card and if those are expired or not. They cannot track coin-fed meters via the smartphones.

Parking meters will continue to accept coins and pre-paid keys. And pay by space machines will continue to accept cash and credit card payments.

Businesses will also be able to use the program to offer discounts and promotions for PassportParking customers who visit those stores. Drivers who use the mobile pay technology will be able to log in using a Facebook account to find nearby businesses that offer validation or other discounts.

"Oak Park will enjoy the benefits of the technology revolution that is sweeping the U.S.," Bob Youakim, managing partner of PassportParking, wrote in the village's news release. "The community will enjoy the simplicity of our mobile payment option and the many conveniences our technology offers."

From now until Oct. 7, parking customers may see new stickers pop. Crews from PassportParking will be placing stickers on current meters and making sure meters match up with Oak Park's parking rules, such as the 15 minute temporary spots on Lake Street. No new devices or meters are needed to implement the pay-for-parking option.

Email: Twitter: @AnnaLothson

Reader Comments

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Comment Policy

Erica from Forest Park  

Posted: October 20th, 2014 4:12 PM

I have been using this system to park. I have a passport parking account. The receipts are sent to me via text or by email. However, I'm frustrated because the Oak Park police have wrote me tickets on several occasions. I fought it in court and judge still found me liable although my receipt proved I paid for the time. Tickets are dated after I paid. They right comments like improper display but I can pay via the app or phone. It's unfair!


Posted: October 29th, 2013 1:17 PM

Am parked on Marion near the peekaboo playroom. I see the app sticker on the meter & download it to iphone. After registering, app tells me there are no places in 60302. ? Had to go in and get quarters anyway.

Lady in front of you at the checkout line at Jewel  

Posted: October 1st, 2013 11:20 AM

Can I write a check?


Posted: October 1st, 2013 9:00 AM

"Obviously, few if any of the outrageous and offensive comments that are posted on these pages would ever be uttered by any rational person at a public meeting." Pot and Kettle. You may post under your real name, but you hide behind your computer never choosing to speak to the people you criticize the most and then rail online "golly I wish the moderators would do something about these people" Hypocrite.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: October 1st, 2013 12:13 AM

A swing and a miss with that Lamborghini wisecrack. Bill Maher drives a Prius. I think you may have him confused with Justin Bieber. The young Canadian popster owns several luxury autos.

Bill Kopper from Oak Park  

Posted: September 30th, 2013 11:06 PM

Q. Apparently you missed basic economics along the way.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 30th, 2013 9:01 PM

Bill from Oak Park Grocery store's have a lot of shoppers. The grocery stores should raise their prices.

Bill from Oak Park  

Posted: September 30th, 2013 7:55 PM

To all you complainers. Given how hard it is to find a spot on South Marion or Lake, I can only conclude the rates are too low. The parking spots are common property managed by the village and should be used to maximize revenue and ensure quick turnover in front of busy stores. The next logical step should be rates base don demand measured by day and time.

Bill from Oak Park  

Posted: September 30th, 2013 7:51 PM

To Gail. I think this is an achievement of PassportParking, not government. If the village were going to develop this ... Regardless, I agree this is a great option for us.

Bill Maher from Hollywood  

Posted: September 30th, 2013 12:17 PM

Will I be able to park my Lamborghini and pay by phone?

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 28th, 2013 12:26 PM

OP greg, if you read this post, Q from Oak Park Posted: September 27th, 2013 1:25 PM you will find that we don't need the meter maids.

OP greg from Parking Tickets killed OP Retail  

Posted: September 28th, 2013 2:39 AM

With the outside administrator and parking employee cost ... the personnel overhead is about 2 million dollars. With collected revenue at 70 % of issued, 50,000 tickets a year need to be written just to cover personnel cost. That's 4,000 tickets a month. Or 130 tickets a day/365 per year to pay the employee overhead. This is the crux of the problem. If the employees do not produce tickets, they have no budget and will get laid off. OP needs to reduce the parking employee cost.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 27th, 2013 11:07 PM

Gail, that issue has been discussed by WJ columnists and many of us who post comments on this forum. It's been pointed out how easy it is to set up a bogus account that can be Facebook Verified without actually being linked to a real person. I guess some people may choose to use a tag name in order to avoid any accountability or responsiblity or simply may not wish to subject themselves and their families to disrespectful abuse and implied threats from cyberbullies. Take it from me, it can get really nasty and on occasion kind of worrisome.. The "flagging" option that's now available seems to be working. Obviously, few if any of the outrageous and offensive comments that are posted on these pages would ever be uttered by any rational person at a public meeting. Bill Maher recently offered examples of the crude stuff that goes out via social networks. He noted that someone actually used Twitter to tell Betty White to "Hurry up and die"! Such cruelty and ignorance may eventually discourage engaging in a civil discourse of the issues of the day on public forums like this but as long as there is some type of real oversight by a moderator we should continue to try to exchange our ideas, information and opinions.

Gail Moran from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 27th, 2013 7:31 PM

Some of you need a reality check. The WJ/ needs to either require people to fess up to their identity, or disable comments altogether. It is sad when one cannot celebrate the achievements of government, but only tear them down.

Q From Oak Park  

Posted: September 27th, 2013 4:10 PM

Hey Q, this is Z. We should totally drop acid together some time.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 27th, 2013 1:35 PM

You have better things you want to use your time for, like shopping for new smart phones. Next time you are in line, say you want the Rewards Points App.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 27th, 2013 1:35 PM

You need the Rewards Points App. This App takes care of all your rewards points. You hold up your phone for the cashier, and he or she scans it. Your reward points are transferred to your smart phone and at the same time, it tells your smart phone to deduct money from your bank for your purchase. This gets rid of the problems using the old fashion cash payments and credit cards, plus it gives you a record of all your purchases. Continued....

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 27th, 2013 1:32 PM

Each time you make a purchase at a store, then ask for your rewards points card, or phone number. You don't expect the old way of places earning your business by selling good products and a good price with friendly service any longer, and you certainly don't deserve spending your time searching through your purse or wallet for your rewards card while the 10 people behind you in line are waiting. Continue....

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 27th, 2013 1:25 PM

Ask for real smart phone technology. All cars should be equipped with a small computer that handles meter parking. The computer knows by using GPS which town the car is parked in. The owner parks, and the smart phone takes over all responsibilities of paying the meter. The smart phone will know the per hour cost and make a transfer from the car owners bank to the parking meters bank. Continued.....

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 27th, 2013 1:24 PM

The smart phone will make the determination if the owner needs to pay more money based on the distance between the smart phone and the car. The phone will keep making deductions until the smart phone is back in the car. This system eliminates the need for any ticket writers and all of the additional expenses that go along with it including parking meters.

Ebeneezer T. Worrell  

Posted: September 27th, 2013 1:12 PM

Will I be able to pay-by-phone via pay-phone?

Q from Oak Park   

Posted: September 27th, 2013 1:07 PM

Bridgett, Gail determines her round trip time, and adds an additional .25 cents to the meter. If the train is delayed longer, the CTA sends out the notification to everyone who has downloaded the Train Running Late App onto their smart phones. Gail takes a picture of herself on the train along with a passengers cell phone showing the time it is. Continued....

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 27th, 2013 1:06 PM

When Gail arrives to her car and finds a ticket on it, she takes a pictures of it, attaches the CTA notification and sends it to the ticket court. The ticket court receives it on their smart phone and forwards it to the ticket judge who has a smart phone, and makes a determination with his or her smart phone, and forwards it back to Gail saying the ticket has been dismissed.

Jon Bertha  

Posted: September 27th, 2013 12:14 PM

I just bought $100 in quarters at the bank. What am I supposed to do with those now???!

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: September 27th, 2013 1:48 AM

Anna, did the Village go with phones supplied by Passport? When this was discussed at a Village Board meeting back on July 22nd (I think), my understanding was that it would be $5K if the Village got the phones (which would be iPhones) from the company, but that the Village were opting to use Android phones, purchased outside the company, and that the cost would then be only $1,500. Did that plan change over the last two months?

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: September 27th, 2013 1:39 AM

This app is an option. If one doesn't want to use it, if they don't want to pay the 35 cents, then they don't have to. The meters still take coins or a meter key. And the toll-free number is an option if one doesn't have a smartphone. Again, an option. Options, options, options, options. :-)

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: September 27th, 2013 1:32 AM

How is Gail supposed to feed her meter if she's sitting on a train? If she can't physically get to the meter in time to put some quarters in it (or use a meter key) then paying 35 cents to avoid a $20 ticket is worth it.


Posted: September 26th, 2013 11:34 PM

More Gigglers, "The majority of the cost...". So because OP bought the smartphones upfront... are they paying cellurar costs or just a OP broadcast info? I apologize for thinking that VOP was increasing the data bill. Games people play...

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 26th, 2013 11:16 PM

Continue.... have the best interests of the citizens they represent.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 26th, 2013 11:14 PM

Gail, you probably have never received a parking ticket because of a 15 minute late train, or you learned quickly to pay the extra 25 cents. Now you will be paying .35 cents, using your phone on a train, making you vulnerable to phone theft, along with your credit card. Meters in front of stores are intended to keep a turn over for shoppers to benefit other shoppers and businesses. The only one making money on this deal are the parking geniuses who sold this idea to the people who are suppose to

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 26th, 2013 11:12 PM

Gail, if this can benefit just one person, it will all be worth it. Gail, do you know that meter feeding is not legal, and the reason it is, is because it causes other shoppers who want to shop, not get a parking space. So this may be a good idea for the shopper who will spend 10 dollars at a store and stay 4 hours instead of 20 minutes


Posted: September 26th, 2013 11:11 PM


Gail Moran from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 26th, 2013 9:53 PM

Thank you Village Board!! This has been a long time coming and a long time in the works but was sorely needed - thank you for listening. No more late trains from the Loop making me 15 minutes over the metered parking with no way to avoid the $20.00 ticket. I applaud the Board for coming into the 21st century with a mobile app!


Posted: September 26th, 2013 9:27 PM

And my family will be shopping at those businesses leaving Oak Park. We already do 90% of our non-grocery shopping/dining outside of Oak Park. Used to love going to the Lake for a movie, too. Sorry, we're gouged enough with our property taxes and all of the other fees. OP is a GREAT location, but the various boards are killing the goose AND its egg with all of this stuff. Yeah, D97 WANTS a new bldg - but certainly doesn't NEED a new bldg. This just NEVER ends, does it?!?


Posted: September 26th, 2013 9:04 PM

Smartphones? Now officers need to be equipped with them to readily be able to detect the violators? Who devises theses schemes to soak the taxpayers of officer equipped smartphones? Must have been giggling and guffawing when they thought that idea up. Could y'all remember you work for us? instead of we work for you?

Lee from Oak Park  

Posted: September 26th, 2013 9:01 PM

Agreed, why do we continue to be increasing costs and driving business to other communities.


Posted: September 26th, 2013 8:58 PM

Because motorists were clamoring to pay MORE to park in OP. Get a bead on your community. It was stupid to pay full time employees to manage garages booths when the cost was 10 cents an hour in the 90's, 00's. Can't there be a smart answer? And yes, it hurts to be nickel and dimed on parking when we have already paid for the parking garages in the first place.

Shopper friendly?  

Posted: September 26th, 2013 8:02 PM

$.35 for each parking spot as an overhead fee?? call in and give a give it card number?? = bad for Oak Park businesses. To run unto Oak Park Jewelers or The Book Table or any other quick stop, shoppers may have to stand in the rain (with a stroller and a rambuncious toddler) and call an 800 number and pay an extra $.35 convenience fee for a 20 minute stop??? Hmmm... a poor solution. Another nice win for Forest Park businesses.

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