Had a cuppa this morning with a buddy who knows about Pay by Cell systems. He told me that they tell their customers that they will get a 20% usage (after a year) and it will probably top out at about 30%. I thought that was high until we talked about it.
Originally Pay By Cell used a standard cell phone. Cities were happy with a 10% usage rate. They did pay by cell to show the city council and citizenry that they were tech savy and on the “cutting edge.” Also it was cheap to do. Today the new systems use apps on smart phones (iPhone, Droid, and Blackberry.) We are rapidly becoming app conscious and this makes it a snap to pay your parking fee by phone (once you are signed up.) Hey, it makes sense.
He also told me that the MBTA in Boston was getting over 50% usage. Now that makes a lot of sense. The pay by cell replaces a coin honor box. I’m late. I’m running to catch my train. Who wants to fumble at an honor box (wait in line) while watching the 701 pull out of the station? The same is true of a Pay by space machine. If I pay by cell, all I have to do is note my space number and run for the train. When I’m comfortably on board, I pay by cell and all is right with the world. I’m surprised that the percentage at the suburban lots around Boston isn’t higher. Like all technology, this one has a niche. You need to find it and fill it.
It’s been a tough slog for Pay by Cell. Frankly I have been a tad skeptical myself. However technology seems to have caught up with the application. Pay by cell may just be on the cusp.