Pay-by-text parking comes to York

Along with BlackBerry-toting parking attendants
Written by Jo Best, Contributor

Along with BlackBerry-toting parking attendants

Taking the car to York? Ditch coins for your parking and get out your mobile instead.

City of York council has signed up mobile operator O2 and parking payment company Verrus to let drivers pay for their parking via a mobile call or SMS.

Drivers will be able to call - and in the future send a text message - to a number given in car parks around the city. Users will need to call an 0870 number and enter their credit card details, car registration and a unique code for the car park to use the parking space.

Drivers will also be reminded when their time is nearly up by text and can then extend their session by dialling or texting the same number.

Parking attendants will also be getting in on the act, using BlackBerrys over GPRS to check up on drivers' account details in their area and ensure all drivers without pay-and-display tickets have used the mobile system.

The Verrus system already covers 130,000 parking spaces in North America and a number of UK councils are using phone payment, including Birmingham and Cheltenham. Westminster is also planning on trialling it from next month.

Other councils have adopted similar schemes, although York is hoping its scheme will fare better than some as it doesn't need pre-registration and allows remote top-ups.

Peter Evely, head of network at City of York council, said the system has streamlined parking operations. It means drivers don't have to run back to cars to top up parking sessions - or risk fines.

However, motorists will pay extra for their mobile service - a surcharge of 20p will be added to each parking fee over £2 and users will pay another 10p to be reminded by text when their parking period is about to expire.

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