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Public Sector Innovation

Sommer Mathis explains a new DC program to let you use your phone to pay for parking spaces:

The pay by phone option is being offered at 700 parking spaces in three areas of the city: around Dupont Circle, Union Station, and downtown on K Street, I Street, and New York Avenue NW. Meters that offer the service will be marked with a green sticker like the one at right, which lists a location number specific to that space.

DDOT has contracted with Verrus Mobile Technologies, Inc. to run the pilot program. In order to take advantage of the option to pay by phone, customers must first sign up for an account at paybyphone.com. You’ll need to provide a mobile phone number, license plate number and credit card info.

Not enough attention is paid in political circles to this kind of thing — finding small ways to make the government work more effectively.

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Of course the real next frontier in street parking is to get the prices right. You want to monitor actual use of spaces, and make parking cheaper when demand is low and more expensive when demand is high. That will generate more revenue for cities and towns (allowing more services or lower taxes) and also ensure that it’s easier to find parking spaces, which will be more convenient for people and also reduce circling-induced traffic congestion.