CHICAGO — Drivers parking in the greater Downtown area will soon have the pay-by-phone option promised by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in last summer's renegotiated parking meter deal.
After rolling out the service, ParkChicago, in a portion of the West Loop three weeks ago, city officials announced the service will now be expanded to the surrounding areas in the coming weeks.
The pay-by-phone program will be available in portions on the Near West Side and Near North Side, River West, River North and South Loop, city officials said. The service is expected to be offered at all city parking meters by this summer.
Drivers can pay for parking or extend parking time from anywhere using a smartphone, tablet or computer. People without smartphones can also call 877-272-7901 and follow the prompts.
The pilot program, launched last month, offered the service at 279 metered parking spots in the West Loop. In three weeks, the program drew some 1,600 users, city officials said.
A 35-cent fee is charged each time a driver pays for less than two hours. The service waives that fee if a driver opts to pay the maximum time allowed. Pay boxes will remain an option for those who do not want to use the service.
ParkChicago users must create an account and begin with a $20 balance which automatically is refilled when the account drops below $10. Drivers enter a zone number displayed on parking signs and then enter their license plate number to pay.
There is a 15-minute minimum when using the app, and the service provides a timer and automatically alerts drivers 10 minutes before their time expires.
Emanuel touted the service as a win for the city when he renegotiated the 75-year parking meter privatization deal passed under Mayor Richard M. Daley.
The revised deal extended parking meter hours across the city, but Emanuel pointed to the pay-by-phone service, free Sunday neighborhood parking and settling "true-up" costs as benefits for city taxpayers.
Since the renegotiated deal was approved, the city has rolled back free Sunday parking in certain neighborhoods at the request of some aldermen.
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