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Vancouver city hall looks for more parking apps

The city brought in $21M in parking revenue, including $17M by mobile app, for the first five months of 2023
The City of Vancouver is looking into alternatives to the PayByPhone app that currently facilitates parking. | Chung Chow, BIV

Vancouver city hall is in the market for another mobile parking app. 

“The city is currently under contract with one service provider,” said the request for proposals (RFP), in reference to Volkswagen Group-owned PayByPhone. “The intent of this RFP is to secure additional service providers who can provide users of city on-street pay parking with multiple mobile payment options including credit debit and e-wallet." 

Bidding closes for the Nov. 8 call on Dec. 13. City hall wants to do a contract for the same term-length as the one with PayByPhone: five years, plus up to five one-year options. 

In March 2017, the city’s bid committee chose to renew PayByPhone’s contract at an estimated cost of $5.4 million plus taxes for the initial five-year term. 

PassportParking Inc., Parkmobile LLC and Precise ParkLink Inc. were the other bidders.

The city estimates annual volumes of 17 million mobile parking transactions via app and 330,000 via telephone-based interactive voice response software. 

Bidding do0cuments say the city is looking for a provider with versatility, that can offer “stop functionality to end a parking session or any other functionality in the solution that could modify an active parking session.” 

PayByPhone users can only enter their desired parking duration and add extensions. 

The city has 20,000 metered parking spaces and zones under varying regulations and rates based on geography and time slots. It is projecting $78.4 million in parking revenue in 2024’s draft budget, of which $61.7 million is for on-street parking. 

Data published under the RFP said there were 16.25 million mobile transactions in 2022, below 2019’s pre-pandemic figure of 17.1 million. 

Last year’s $39.53 million gross from the mobile app was slightly ahead of the 2019 total of $39.28 million. From all sources, however, 2022’s $49.79 million was 15 per cent less than 2019’s $59.06 million. 

Working from home took a major bite out of the city’s total parking revenue in 2020, when it plummeted to $38.64 million, including $28.18 million via app.

The recovery continues. 

For the first five months of 2023, the city brought in $21.34 million, including $17.36 million by mobile app.

Volkswagen Group subsidiary Volkswagen Financial Services AG acquired Yaletown-based PayByPhone Technologies Inc. in 2016. The City of Vancouver paid PayByPhone $2.31 million in 2022, according to the latest statement of financial information.

The company told customers last May that it would charge them 15 cents every time they receive a text message about their parking purchase at City of Vancouver-metered spots. 

Vancouver parking meters are in effect seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Spots downtown can cost as much as $9 an hour during daytime, according to VanMap. A parking violation ticket costs $77, discounted by 40% if paid within two weeks.