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Make a Call, Pay For Your Parking In Bethesda

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A pay-by-cell meter in Bethesda, Maryland
Natalie Neumann
A pay-by-cell meter in Bethesda, Maryland

By Natalie Neumann

At some parking meters in Bethesda, Maryland, you don't have to reach for change, you can reach for your cell phone instead.

Brice Mbona puts coins in a parking meter in downtown Bethesda.

"I have this problem every time, to try and get quarters," he says.

But he doesn't have to at this meter. It and 1,200 others now have a pay-by-cell option.

The Montgomery County pilot project started in January. You register online, or by phone, and you put money into an account by credit card. When you park you call the service, enter the number assigned to the parking space and type in how long you'd like stay.

Jeremy Souders works for the County's Division of parking and says the program has other perks.

"You'll get a text message reminder 10 minutes before your time is going to expire saying 'Do you want to extend your time,'" he says. "If you want to extend your time you don't have to go back to the meter or anything, you can just call the number back and extend your time remotely."

Souders says if you leave your parking spot early you can call back and only pay for what you used.

Close to 2,000 people have registered for the service.

Mbona says he'll try it next time he's out of quarters.

"I'm not going to try to get coins from everywhere," says Mbona, "Go to the Starbucks, bother everybody, 'please can I have $2 in coins because of the parking."

The county plans to expand the program this fall. The District will begin a similar pilot project Monday.

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