Community News Politics __Featured Slider — 19 December 2013
City rolls out smartphone app for parking meters

By Erich Wagner (File photo)

Officials announced the rollout of a new smartphone app to pay for parking meters in the city last month. But a few questioned whether using a competitor to Washington’s Parkmobile service was a smart choice.

Transit officials said they considered several ways to bring an app-based service to Alexandria for paying parking meters. They chose Pango because there was no upfront cost to the city and convenience fees levied on residents were much lower than other companies.

To park using the new app, residents must download it onto their smartphone and create an account. The service asks for the user’s license plate number, the zone number that corresponds with their parking spot and a credit card number, which is encrypted. Then a user simply taps “Start Parking” and finishes the transaction when they’re ready to leave.

Local parking guru Faye Dastgheib touted several advantages that Pango’s app has over other park-by-phone services, such as showing motorists the locations of nearby garages — city and privately owned — and allowing them to pay at the end of their session.

“Every time you want to extend your parking session [using Parkmobile in D.C. and Montgomery County], you need to pay an additional convenience fee,” Dastgheib said. “[One] of the good things about this, because the parker can stop the parking session at the backend, they can stop parking and they don’t need to extend the parking session [and pay additional fees].”

Additionally, Dastgheib said Pango charges users a 29-cent convenience fee per parking session, compared with 49 cents per transaction with Parkmobile.

City Councilor Tim Lovain applauded the app’s approach to paying for parking meters.

“Most people, like with a parking meter, tend to pay more than what you really need, because, just to be safe,” Lovain said. “So it actually hurts city revenues this way, but it’s really much better for the customer.”

Dastgheib noted that the app still enforces any two-hour parking restrictions in Alexandria. The app does not allow users to pay for more than two hours at a time in these locations and will send a notification to their phone reminding them to move their car.

But City Councilor Paul Smedberg noticed a potential problem with the app. Parkmobile and Pango use five-digit zone numbers, many of which begin with the number “2,” which could present problems with residents already using Parkmobile when they make trips into Washington.

“I have Pango set up next to Parkmobile, and if I by chance hit the Parkmobile app and put in a code, will that be a problem?” Smedberg asked. “Are our numbers unique?”

“It is going to be a problem, since the Pango system is not connected to Parkmobile’s system,” Dastgheib said. “[We] can look into that and see if it would create any problems.”

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(10) Readers Comments

  1. I downloaded app– used once and it was great. Went to add my husbands license plate and the app hasn’t worked since. I tried to call customer service and only got a notice that I won a bogus cruise– never got a voice or customer service rep. Is this app a joke?? They have no means for getting help– I’m concerned. They have my cc number.

    • Patty,

      Thank you for your posting. We will be happy to speak with your directly to make sure we handle your question. More than 1,700 people are using successful using Pango in Alexandria right now. Pango is not giving away a cruise, so I am have no idea how to respond to your comment. We definitely want to make sure you can park with Pango everyday in Alexandria. Thank you for your comments.

      Neil Edwards
      President Pango

  2. Is Pango PCI compliant? If so, what level? They don’t appear to be listed on the Visa website list of PCI compliant companies? With the recent breach of security with Target and their customers credit/debit cards, what legal assurance has the City taken to verify if Pango is actually PCI compliance? Should we be concerned?

    • Pango is PCI DSS Level 1 Compliant, and we have been for years. We are a Visa PCI vendor.

  3. Beware of a $2 monthly fee for “personal alerts” about your parking sessions. These are reportedly for txt messages from Pango. The lack of support for more than one car is pretty stupid. I’m not encouraged by these facts.

  4. Johnathan,

    Thank you for your comments. Our app does support multiple cars per account. I personally have 5 different cars in my account, and have parked successfully in Alexandria many times over the past two weeks. Messaging is free in Alexandria.

    Thank you,

    Neil Edwards
    President Pango

  5. Typical Alexandria. There’s an obvious system already in place in the metro area — ParkMobile. And, they opt for the more obscure, less user friendly option.

    ““So it actually hurts city revenues this way, but it’s really much better for the customer.” Hmm….Does Lovian really understand how revenue generation works? Why did the city choose this system if it will end up reducing revenue? Alexandria must be the only city in the world that knowingly selects a system that will reduce its revenue.

    The Pango system seems user-unfriendly. What if you start a parking session and your phone battery runs out? Or, Internet connectivity is unavailable? (Neither of which are unusual circumstances.) Does your session continue until you can get to a working connection? Why not just allow users to pre-purchase time, like every other parking system in the world works? This has the added advantage for the city of cashing in on unused minutes (when a parker leaves his/her space for the session has ended).

    The fact that when you search for “Pango” in the iTunes App store the first option you’re given is the Israeli version of Pango; that Pango’s website touts extactly three cities using this system (the trendsetting metropolises of Latrobe, Pa;., Scranton, Pa., and Auburn, NY; and that its website doesn’t seem to be actively maintained (Alexandria isn’t even listed as a participating jurisdiction) leads me to question just how reliable this provider is.

    It isn’t that hard. Just go with ParkMobile!!

  6. Definitely just go with a company that exists. Competition is bad! Just like with the water company. How silly. So
    you have two apps on your phone. Mine is next to my two sport center apps. I’m glad to know city council took the search seriously.

  7. I tried to install the Pango app on my phone. Wouldn’t work – all the codes they sent were invalid. Called customer service, they said to reinstall, so I did. Now it won’t recognize my phone number — says I don’t have an account. So I tried to re-enroll, and it says it can’t do that because I already have an account.

    The iPad app is an iPhone app, so it appears crooked on the screen.

    Pango has no *active* Facebook or Twitter presence. What century is this?!

    Instead of fighting the dumb thing, I went downstairs and put a credit card into the machine, got a slip and stuck it on my dash.

    What a waste of time.

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