LAZ To Fast Track Parking Meter Rate Changes


When the new, higher Chicago parking meter rates kick in January 1st, motorists will have little time to reminisce about 2009’s lower rates as the transition is expected to move very quickly.

Nine days is all it should take.

That’s how fast sources claim LAZ Parking plans to take to change all 4100 pay boxes and 600 traditional single head parking meters from the old rates, to the new increased rates.

According to a source within LAZ Parking, rate change crews will hit the ground running January 1st in order to begin converting pay boxes to the higher rates.

When the City of Chicago signed a 75 year long concession agreement with Chicago Parking Meters, LLC to operate the city’s entire 36,000 parking meter system, it allowed for rate increases for the first five years of the deal, and at minimum, increases tied to inflation after that.

So, while the most drastic increases occurred early in 2009, with the vast majority of meters increasing 400% from 25 cents per hour to $1.00 hour, rates will rise again on January 1, 2010 by an average of 25%.

Meters that are currently charging $1.00 per hour go up to $1.25 per hour, while meters currently charging $2.00 per hour will go up 50 cents an hour to $2.50 per hour, and downtown meters currently charging $3.50 per hour will increase by 75 cents an hour to $4.25 per hour.

For all practical purposes, Chicago’s parking meter rates have increased by an average of 500% in less than 12 months.

The time around it seems, CPM does not want a replay of last spring when it encountered a slew of problems which delayed in its initial transition from old rates to new rates.

Initially, when LAZ Parking, CPM’s operational partner, had to change the rates on over 36,000 single (or double) space meters, it took much longer than expected. Originally, LAZ thought it would take three to four weeks to complete the transition. Eventually, after three months or so, the rate change was complete.

In addition, during the transition, many meters were broken or vandalized, meters overflowed with quarters because the company did not realize the four-fold rate increase would require meters being emptied more frequently, and many meters were mislabeled or not charging the correct amounts.

According to sources, the company, not looking to get embarrassed again for their initial performance with last year’s meter rate increases, has been carefully planning, preparing and training personnel since October to convert all meters and pay boxes to the new rates as fast as possible.

This time around it will be much easier because of the new parking meter pay boxes the company had installed over the last eight months. Instead of having over 36,000 single-space meters to change over, there will be only 600 single space meters to convert and 4100 multi-space pay boxes.

Even though January 1st, New Year’s Day, is a holiday, LAZ’s action plan calls for three, two-person crews converting all Loop/Central Business District pay boxes (the most lucrative area with the highest meter rates) to the new, even higher rates on that day.

However, on January 2nd, a total of 10 teams of two people will hit the streets converting 50 pay boxes per day, per team, to the higher rates. A pace of 500 pay boxes per day.

All 600 remaining single space meters will be changed to the new rates by January 4th.

CPM spokesperson Avis LaVelle disputes the claim about rapid speed and efficiency of the rate transition only saying, “it will be done in a phased approach.”

LaVelle says the company will release more details about their plans for the meter rate changes sometime this week.

10 Responses to LAZ To Fast Track Parking Meter Rate Changes

  1. ldypea says:

    any bets……that there….will stilll….be….problems?????

  2. Joe says:

    I know these rate changes are allowed as part of their contract for the next 75 years, but what happens if usage significantly drops off (even more so). Any chance they would reduce the rates? An empty spot is worth nothing to them.

  3. glg says:

    Seems odd that they can’t change the boxes remotely.

  4. Tom says:

    first — ldypea, why do you write so ridiculously ? Some sort of attempt to disguise your identity ?

    second — lower the rates … that’s a larf.

    third — I’m surprised it will take 9 days to change the rates. One would think they could do it electronically. The CTA system’s fares have been set electronically since inception (I used to work on the system). All you had to do was broadcast a new fare table to the end devices and wait a few hours or a day to wait for all the devices to receive them over the antiquated landline-based modems.

  5. Joe says:

    I’m guessing they can’t change the rates over the air because they need to change the signage on the meters too. Imagine the outrage there would be if the signage showed a lower rate then what the boxes charged.

  6. ldypea says:

    tom……style my….man….style

  7. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    Joe is absolutely right. I believe the rates could be changed remotely, but the rate stickers need to be correct as well. In addition, my sources explain that any pay box or meter discovered during the process that needs to be fixed or tuned up or whatever, is supposed to be addressed before or while the rate change goes into effect on that unit.

    I think 9 days is impressively fast. This is the type of efficiency you wouldn’t normally get from a city government.

    While it would be nice for them to take a long time to increase the rates, it’s probably better in the long run to have as little rate confusion as possible.

    I would guess it may take a few more days than what they’re shooting for, but their goals seem reasonable and attainable.

  8. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    Hey you guys, leave Lady PEA alone.

    If she wants to use ellipses, let her do it.

    It’s a free country right?

  9. Optimus Prime says:

    WhO CaReS HoW AnY OnE WrItEs. I agree there is going to be problems especially when it comes to machines. Im sure there will be overcharging going on for the first week.

  10. glg says:

    Oh yeah, the rate cards, duh.

    Yeah, 9 days seems optimistic, especially given potential bad weather, of which LAZ seems to be ignorant.

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