Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

App Happy, City Parkers Make Georgians Grin

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

App Happy, City Parkers Make Georgians Grin

Article excerpt

You know how there's a long user agreement before any online signup, one that you're supposed to read but never do?

Tom Solomich of Squirrel Hill read one. It's the one that goes with the city's new parking app. He was struck by this bit in Section 4:

"All issues and questions concerning the ... enforceability of these terms ... shall be construed in accordance with the laws of the state of Georgia."

It further states that all beefs with the gadget need to be resolved individually - there can be no class actions - in a Fulton County courthouse. That's in Georgia, and "judgments and awards shall be limited to actual out-of-pocket costs ... but in no event any attorneys' fees."

Like Mark Twain once said of Richard Wagner's music, that's better than it sounds. All parking tickets will still be settled Downtown, though the Pittsburgh Parking Authority also farmed that operation out to private industry a decade ago. When you pay a parking ticket in Pittsburgh, somewhere in Milwaukee at Duncan Solutions - "offering a comprehensive solution to your parking needs" - an executive smiles and goes, "Ka-ching!"

We've slid into this brave new world of privatization a little at a time. Mr. Solomich, 70 and a lawyer, was more amused than alarmed by the fine print he saw as he was hitting the "agree" button for his parking app a couple of weeks ago. He likes the thing, and guesses he's used it 10 times already. For him, it beats fumbling for quarters or a credit card.

"I'll bet nobody read it," he said of the agreement, and I'll bet he's nearly right, and I'd also bet it won't matter. The app has been a huge hit. In its first seven weeks since it opened for tapping, more than 69,000 transactions have been made at the city 9,000-plus metered spaces, the Pittsburgh Parking Authority reported. That amounts to nearly $202,000 in gross revenues.

Though that's a fraction of the 820,000 transactions done at the meters, the app is already nearing 8 percent of total transactions, authority Executive Director Dave Onorato said. The 8 cents added for each app transaction, which goes to Parkmobile in Atlanta, doesn't seem to be discouraging anyone. …

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