Tuesday, February 26, 2013

CurbTXT Gives Drivers a Chance to Correct Their Parking Mistakes

In a city where it can be a challenge to drive and park, a group of young San Franciscans have started a service that lets people anonymously text drivers if they've done something wrong, such as parking in a tow zone or blocking someone's driveway. Because leaving notes under windshields is so low-tech – and by the time the owner returns, their car may have already been towed.

Launched in September of last year, CurbTXT encourages neighborliness in a time when passive-aggressive parking notes have become common. If you see a car that's been left with its lights on, for instance, you can send a text to CurbTXT with the vehicle's license plate and a message, which the startup will pass along to the driver. The service is free to use and you don't need to register to send a message. And unless you identify yourself in the text, the recipient will never know who sent the benevolent note. Drivers have to register their car to receive texts, though, as well as place a small CurbTXT sticker on the back of their vehicle to indicate their participation in the service.

“We were just trying to solve that problem, how do you communicate to someone you don't know, but you know their car is there and you want to reach them,” says Alex Maxa, one of the co-founders of CurbTXT. According to him, San Francisco's board of supervisors has expressed interest in the service. The city doesn't make money from towed cars (that goes to the towing company), and if CurbTXT does get integrated into the city's parking management system, parking enforcement officers can text car owners, who will likely move their car out of the way faster than the towing company. As for the potential problem of getting unwanted texts from spammers, simply texting “#block” will take care of it.

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