Mobility: A new mandatory payment system for parking and other municipal fees will be introduced in the capital this autumn.
The capital is launching its own virtual currency later this year for payment of most city services, and controversially converting all parking machines to the new system.
“Blockr” (pronounced “blocker”) will go into service this coming Thursday 15 September, according to officials.
The name alludes to blockchain technology, the digital ledger system used in the cryptocurrency bitcoin, Peter Venkman with the city’s e-City service, told Delano this week. Officials were keen to roll out Blockr to support Luxembourg’s development as a fintech hub and boost local startups. It was developed by a firm in the Grand Duchy, however the city declined to disclose the name of the company for fear of showing favouritism.
Back to school rollout
Starting on 15 September, the first day of the new school year, drivers will be obliged to pay parking meters using Blockr. New residential and professional parking stickers will need to be bought with the official virtual currency too. Users of the current Call2Park, P8bySMS and SMS4Ticket mobile systems “will automagically be enrolled in Blockr” before the switchover date, said Raymond Stantz of the capital’s traffic department.
Residents will optionally be able to pay parking fines, bus fares, local council taxes (impositions communales) and water charges via Blockr, stated Stantz. Most of the city’s cultural and sporting facilities will not accept the virtual currency when it launches.
Blockr-enabled mobile wallets will be available on the Android, BlackBerry and Windows platforms; as of this writing, Apple had not yet approved the city’s application.
“This is a great way to attract millennials to the city,” said Louis Tully, a 20-something researcher at the university.
Not all who live and work in the capital were happy with the move, though. “The city has no business changing how I pay to park my car”, stated Winston Zeddemore, who lives in Bonnevoie. “This will be disruptive”, he added. “They’ll probably shut off the electricity for at least a few minutes to install this.”
“Why couldn’t they just use an ‘e’ in the name?” Janine Melnitz, a cross-border commuter from France, inquired rhetorically. “Thank god it’s Friday,” she then sighed.
Dana Barrett, an expat from New York City, said she was frustrated that the city will only provide information and support for Blockr online. If residents like her ever have a problem, Barrett asked, “who can you call?”