Parking Meter Rate Changeover Begins Sunday
Meter Company Challenges ‘Highest Rate In Nation’ Fact
While officially, Chicago’s increased parking meter rates kicked in at midnight New Year’s Day, it could take four or more weeks for all of Chicago’s 36,000 parking meters to be converted to the new, higher rates according to a spokesperson for Chicago Parking Meters, LLC.
“The transition to the new rates will begin on January 2nd, starting with the Loop and moving outward into the neighborhoods,” explains CPM spokesperson Avis LaVelle via e-mail. “Weather conditions permitting, the goal is to complete the transition in January.”
Because of the relatively small number of high priced meters in the Loop, most likely all these pay boxes will be switched over to the new rates just in time for motorists to pay the higher hourly rate Monday morning.
While it will take roughly a month for the more modern pay boxes to be changed to the higher rates, it may take an additional week or two to finish changing the several hundred remaining traditional single-head meters.
It’s recommended drivers read all signs and the digital readout on the pay boxes when paying for their metered time. Drivers are only responsible for the posted hourly rate according to LaVelle.
Meter rates are jumping for the third time in three years per Chicago’s parking meter lease deal. Most neighborhood meter rates are rising a quarter from $1.25 per hour to $1.50, with areas adjacent to downtown like Gold Coast, South Loop, River North and parts of Lincoln Park bumping up 50 cents an hour from $2.50 to $3 per hour.
Downtown rates will increase 75 cents an hour from $4.25 to $5.00 per hour, making Chicago’s downtown meter rates the highest in the country, beating out New York City and Los Angeles.
Chicago Parking Meter disputed this fact originally reported by this website by referring to a 2008 study by real estate company Colliers International which reported that Denver, CO, Little Rock, AR, Memphis, TN, Houston, TX and West Palm Beach, FL all had higher downtown parking rates than Chicago’s new rates.
However, the Colliers data is flawed–and dramatically so.
A few internet searches, checks of official city websites and phone calls to each of these cities revealed these five cities have downtown rates ranging from 50 cents an hour (Little Rock) to no more than $1.50 per hour (Houston), drastically lower than the $5.35 to $8.00 per hour rates listed for these cities in the Colliers study.
The meter company has also recently begun a Google Adwords campaign to inform readers of the new rate information linking readers to their website.
The 75 year meter lease deal allows for rate increases for the first five years of the agreement, with potential rate hikes after that tied to inflation. These initial rate hikes end in 2013 with downtown rates topping out at $6.50 per hour.