Technology

Miami’s most-used parking app is now available in Spanish

A PayByPhone sign across the street from Dadeland Mall on Saturday, October 21, 2017
A PayByPhone sign across the street from Dadeland Mall on Saturday, October 21, 2017 cmguerrero@miamiherald.com

For a region that is both car- and Hispanic-heavy, PayByPhone’s latest announcement will come as a relief: The parking app used throughout much of Miami-Dade is now available in Spanish.

“With approximately 70 percent of Miami’s population identifying as Hispanic or Latino, the app’s support for Spanish increases the service’s usability in the region,” the company said in a release.

According to the U.S. Census, 788,737 Miami-Dade residents who speak Spanish say they speak English “less than very well” — nearly one-third of the county’s population.

As of June 2018 PayByPhone had processed about 571,000 transactions in the city of Miami. Over 206,000 users process their parking payments using PBP on a monthly basis in the city of Miami.

PayByPhone is still trying to determine the need for more languages as they launch the new program. It is not yet available in Haitian Creole.

Ten years ago, Miami became the first major U.S. city to start accepting mobile payments for parking. But some say the widespread elimination of traditional parking-payment methods here has exacerbated the “digital divide” between those who live their lives on apps and those who cannot or will not adapt to new technology. Using the app requires a smartphone.

“Parking traditionally with cash, it would be a $1.50 an hour. But with PayByPhone app it basically makes parking $1.50 an hour, plus a $350 phone,” Eric Gonzalez, an FIU student, told WLRN recently. “It really ties the hands of a lot of people, including people like myself. I’m young, I don’t have too much money to spend on things like phones, but I essentially had to.”

Research group Pew has found that although smartphones help bridge racial gaps in internet access, blacks, Hispanics, and lower-income smartphone users “are about twice as likely as whites to have canceled or cut off service because of the expense.“

Pew says that 88 percent of native-born Hispanics own a smartphone, compared with 62 percent of Hispanics born abroad.

ParkMobile, the parking app used by the city of Miami Beach, is currently not available in Spanish. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comments about whether it has plans to release a Spanish version.

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