Austin parking app charges users for months of missed fees

Graysen Golter

An Austin parking app began charging customers last week for months of delayed transactions.

Park ATX could not properly charge all customers for their parking fees because the app was in a testing phase for improvements at the time, said Jason Redfern, Austin Transportation’s Parking Enterprise division manager. 

In a statement made on Oct. 15 by app developer Passport, spokesperson Elizabeth Strickert said the missed fees occurred from July to September and affected less than 20% of customers. According to the Austin American-Statesman, the developers did not charge users around $500,000.

“We sincerely apologize for any confusion or inconvenience this may have caused,” Strickert said in the statement. “Users may see multiple charges appear on their statements. Rest assured, we’ve verified that these are all authorized charges reflecting each individual wallet load transaction during the affected time.”

Redfern said the error had nothing to do with the recent increase in parking meter rates to $2 per hour. He said the Austin Transportation Department should have charged the missed fees before or after the increase.

There is not much Austin Transportation Department or Passport can do to prevent similar errors in the future, but a quick response time to customers would help solve the problem, Redfern said.

 



Redfern said the errors should not deter people from using the app and other paid transportation resources over traditional parking methods. He said there are many advantages of Park ATX, such as a feature that allows customers to only pay for needed parking time and the ability to map out parking zones and time limits.

“We really want people … to trust (the) mobile payment solution,” Redfern said. “I’m surprised more people aren’t already on it, (but) that will happen in time as people get more familiar with our parking system.”

Transportation engineering professor Kara Kockelman said Austin can solve the lack of parking spaces and traffic congestion by expanding on technology similar to the Park ATX app. She said the data collected from transportation apps could lead to changes, such as adjusting parking meter rates based on time of day and special events.

“The nice thing about an app is it can, in real time, reflect (traffic data),” Kockelman said. “That’s the kind of perfect world where you can reserve what you need to because you’re in a rush or something.”