TAMPA - If you park on the streets of Tampa, life just got a little easier.
The city started using a new parking system on Monday that lets parking customers pay and renew their parking spaces through their mobile phones.
About three years ago, the city switched from coin-operated parking meters to a credit card-based system that uses numbered spaces and centralized kiosks on each block. That system reduced the number of parking tickets the city issues and raised its parking revenue by about 25 percent.
The kiosk system, though, lets people park for a maximum of only two hours per session. After that, they need to return to a kiosk to add more time to their parking.
Parkmobile lets them re-up their parking space through their mobile phone, computer or by calling a toll-free number.
The city has hired Parkmobile to handle the new parking system. The company already works with Lanier Parking, which operates private lots in Tampa, and in St. Petersburg, Orlando and several cities in South Florida.
Mayor Bob Buckhorn said the plan is to make parking simpler and more convenient downtown. If people are familiar with Parkmobile after using it in other cities, that's even better, he said.
"This is one more step we are taking to make Tampa a more tech-savvy, accessible city," Buckhorn said in a written statement announcing the start of Parkmobile.
The company charges a 35-cent fee per transaction for its basic users. People who subscribe on a yearly basis get a reduced fee.