In the past couple of years, the city of Dallas has begun to turn away from the glorified gumball machines that have stood sentry over downtown parking for decades in favor of more modern technologies. A hundred credit card-processing meters now dot the Arts District, West End, and City Hall. Main Street Garden and the Dallas Museum of Art each has a similarly versatile machine that covers multiple spaces.
But change has been slow, and the remainder of the more than 4,000 city-operated meters are the coin-only kind. That essentially means that if you're out of quarters, you're out of luck.
Not for long. At the Deep Ellum Arts Festival two weekends ago, the city tested a new pay-by-phone system it plans to roll out over the next couple of months at all city parking meters.
"This is just an additional option of making payments," says Donzell Gipson, an assistant director at the Dallas Police Department who oversees parking enforcement and red light cameras, among other things. "If you keep a stack of coins in the car and you want to continue to do that, fine, but this is another option."
The system will be run by a company called Pay by Phone which, if its name isn't quite clear enough, offers a brief video tutorial that informs you that drivers can either phone in credit card information or use the smartphone app to pay parking fees.
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About 1,400 drivers used the system in Deep Ellum with few hiccups. Gipson says the main takeaway from that experience is that the city needs to install better signage, which should be in place for the full rollout in May or June.