Birmingham city council looks to expand parking meter payment options

Parking Meter
Birmingham Alabama Downtown Parking Meter [Photo Credit: chadraggio via Flikr]

The Birmingham City Council is looking into expanding payment options for the city’s 4,500 parking meters.

Members of the Birmingham, Ala. community are very familiar with being put in a situation where they are desperately pulling together change from their purses, wallets, cars and pockets to feed the meter. But in some parts of the city, scrounging up $0.50 will only buy you 30 minutes; if the meter expires before you get back, you might find a $15 parking ticket on your windshield.

That’s why Chairman of the Birmingham transportation committee and city Councilman Darrell O’Quinn is exploring new mobile payment methods to pay for parking meters.

In early April, O’Quinn met with two companies to investigate new payment methods.


O’Quinn met with Parkmobile LLC, a mobile app that allows users to pay for parking meters using credit cards or pre-loaded funds, and Paybyphone; another mobile app which allows users to pay using not only their mobile device, but would also allows parkers to call a 1-800 number posted on a meter, or a nearby kiosk, and respond to the payment prompts.

O’Quinn told Bham Now that Parkmobile doesn’t usually charge municipalities for its service model.

If you make it easier to pay for parking, more people will pay; and more payment options could mean more revenue for the city, O’Quinn told NPR.

According to city officials, nearly 40 percent of parking tickets distributed don’t get paid, resulting in thousands of dollars in uncollected parking fines every year.

Broken meters, another source of lost income for the city, would also be subject to the new payment methods, if instituted.

O’Quinn plans to test these electronic payment options over the next few months in hopes of getting good feedback from residents before the city makes any changes.