Parking app pilot presents a new way to pay

Paying for parking at Western is now a more convenient, reliable and, perhaps most importantly at this time of year, a lot less snowy, thanks to a new smartphone app for use in selected on-campus metred lots.

“I think students like the fact that they can be in the library studying and get a notification on their phone saying parking will expire in 15 minutes; no more running down to the car to put in a slip of paper,” said Mark Van Den Bossche, Parking and Visitor Services manager.

HonkMobile is being featured as a pilot in three of Western’s pay-and-display lots: Medical Science, Weldon and Support Services.

Here’s how it works: After downloading the app to your smartphone, select the length of time you want to park and tap ‘Pay Now.’ Your credit card is automatically billed and a receipt is sent to you via email. Payments are transferred to Western through HonkMobile, who receives a service fee.

As time runs out, the app alerts you and allows you to simply tap ‘Pay Now’ again to top-up from wherever you are.

How do parking patrols know who has or hasn’t paid? Using a hand-held device, parking enforcement can access a website that lists what vehicles should – and should not – be in the lot.

“It works on a license plate recognition system. If there is a line through the license plate on the website, the time has expired,” he said.

The Toronto-based HonkMobile is helmed by Western alumnus Michael Back, BA’93 (Economics).

The Western pilot launched in November and runs until April. The university is the first institution in the city to use the parking payment method. Van Den Bossche plans to determine if the use of the app will continue, based on its success.

If so, Western could see its expansion into more lots, and, so far, it’s looking good, he said.

“I did it myself the other morning,” he said. “I sat in my car, topped up the metre, and went on with my day.”

Visit HonkMobile.com to download the app.