UC Berkeley Parking and Transportation launched a new mobile parking payment system Wednesday.
Drivers can now pay for parking in campus lots using their credit or debit card via a mobile app, going online or calling an automated service hosted by company PayByPhone, in addition to using existing pay stations.
The service also includes several features unavailable at traditional pay stations, including text message reminders, time extensions and online receipts.
“People would come for a meeting or something here, and they would either have to leave the meeting to feed the meter or get a citation,” said Loretta Ezeife, strategy analyst for campus Parking and Transportation and the project manager for the new system. “Now with remote time extension, that doesn’t have to happen.”
UC Berkeley sophomore Marisa Gao, who commutes to campus from her apartment on Milvia Street and Channing Way, said the two-hour time limit deters her from parking in campus lots because of class. Instead, she parks at independent garages where she can pay for up to a day of parking. But she said the new system would make her consider parking on campus lots.
In addition to these features, the system’s “no cost” implementation made it the “perfect solution,” Ezeife said. PayByPhone, the international company that supplies the new payment system, paid for the implementation, which included signs and integration into enforcement handheld devices.
The company also recently began servicing the city of San Francisco, according to a press release from UC Berkeley Parking and Transportation.
PayByPhone requires its users to create an account, submit their credit or debit card information, contact information, license plate number, state of registration and type of vehicle, with the option of adding up to three vehicles to an account.
But Gao said the extra step of registration would prevent her from using the new service.
To encourage drivers to try PayByPhone, Parking and Transportation has waived the 25 cent convenience fee for the first five days of service.
The new service works for 5,500 public campus parking spaces in lots, garages and on the street. PayByPhone does not work for parking spaces in the city of Berkeley, including street parking on the border of campus.
According to Ezeife, Parking and Transportation is making many changes to better serve the campus community, such as posting schedules at bus stops for Bear Transit shuttles.
But UC Berkeley senior Katherine Tsougarakis, who commuted from El Cerrito last fall, thinks much more needs to be done to improve parking around campus outside of these new services. Tsougarakis had an S permit, which only allowed her to park in a few lots around campus.
“(Commuting) was a terrible experience,” she said. “There’s just not enough parking in Berkeley.”