Houston’s New Pay-by-Phone Meters: They’ve Got Your Number

When you use the city’s brand-new pay-by-phone parking setup to pay for a metered space — introduced by the mayor this morning — what are you giving up? Well, an extra 35 cents to the system’s vendor, Parkmobile, beyond the parking fee. Plus you’re telling city officials — and parking enforcement officers — where your car is parked, its license plate number, and a good way to reach you. But city Admin & Regulatory Affairs spokesperson Chris Newport tells Swamplot that’s all: “No credit card or email information will be accessed. We retain the plate/phone number parking transaction history to allow us to verify someone paid for parking in the event of a complaint regarding a citation that may have been issued in error.”

What if you’ve got a few outstanding tickets?


“We have been using the Texas DMV vehicle registration database for a number of years to locate folks that need to be reminded that they owe outstanding parking fines. We will continue to rely on that database alone,” Newport says. “We do not have any plans or any intention of developing any plans to share or cross check Pay by Phone user information against other information or for any other purpose.”

The service will now apparently by spam-free, too: Earlier this week Parkmobile removed a few paragraphs from its term and conditions that had given the company permission to send advertising texts and emails to users. Parkmobile now says the changes aren’t just for Houston, but for all cities where Parkmobile operates.

Photo: InnerLooped

One Comment

  • This Parkmobile pay by cell parking system in Houston is horrible.

    First of all it costs .35 cents each time you use it. And another .35 cents if you want to add more time to that same parking meter ! Plus I’m not getting my text reminders on a regular basis.

    A friend of mine that works with the City told me that other companies that provide this service have lower fees and some apparently even offered the city a much lower fee than .35 cents , but they still went with this company and the more expensive choice.

    I don’t get it….why would we want to pay more than we have to?

    Something is definitely fishy here.