By Pat Loeb


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Many Philadelphia drivers will be happy to hear they can soon pay for parking with a smart phone, again.

The Philadelphia Parking Authority Board picked a new vendor at Wednesday’s meeting and expects to have a new app up and running before the end of November.

Deputy Director Corinne O’Connor says the Authority learned the hard way not to go with the lowest bid. That’s what it did two years ago when the provider, Pango, offered to cover all the costs of mobile parking payments with a one-cent-per-transaction fee.

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A year and a half later, it went out of business.

“We formed a committee that involved executive staff, meters, ticketing, revenue control, IT — as opposed to last time, I think, we saw that they were going to have a one cent convenience fee, thought it was great, jumped in, got this app. Meanwhile, they were responsible for the data plan and all the hand-held ticketing devices, the signage, the stickers on the kiosks throughout the whole city, fees for the credit card and debit card; all those costs add up– so, knowing how many signs had to be bought and how many transactions happened last time, we calculated what their costs are going to be for the year and are they doing a responsible bid that what they’re going to charge is going to cover the cost because we don’t want to get into, like, a year later, ‘we can’t sustain the program and you gotta help us fix it,'” said O’Connor.

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The Board picked the second-highest of four bidders– 40 cents per transaction– but O’Connor is confident the winning bidder– ParkMobile– will be around for the entire three-year contract, maybe longer.

“They have a lot of major cities. They have New York, they have Denver, they have D.C., they’ve been in the U.S. for seven years, that’s their business,” said O’Connor.

It will still be called MeterUp but you’ll have to download a new app, which will become operational 60 days from the contract-signing, which could take two weeks to a month.