Officials tout parking meter improvements

December 21, 2009 (CHICAGO) It comes as a result of what the company called a listening tour that involved drivers and dozens of businesses. Chicago parking meters and LAZ Parking took over the city's 36,000 parking meters back in February for an upfront payment of more than $1 billion.

Since then, there have been numerous problems with the meters, including those that were broken and frozen, as well as inaccurate signage that led to drivers getting unwarranted tickets.

Chicago Parking Meters, LLC officials have met with dozens of chambers of commerce, businesses and neighborhood organizations to discuss the metered parking system operation. As a result, a number of the suggestions heard in the listening tour have been adopted to improve the system and add convenience for motorists.

One of the new improvements people are excited about is parking portability; you can use your receipt at more than one parking box.

"If you go to a pay box and hit the button that says give me the maximum amount of allowable time and it only takes you 10 minutes in the store, you can get in your car, drive to another location and as many locations as you want to as long as that receipt has not expired and your parking is valid," said Avis LaVelle, Chicago Parking Meters spokesperson.

LaVelle says a number of the new system enhancements are now in pre-payment pay boxes: Motorists can pre-pay as early at 5 a.m., automatic parking ticket dismissal on malfunctioning meters extended periods of stay to provide extended time near theaters, concerts, schools and other places.

"It became clear that a two-hour maximum on the pay box is just not enough. There are places that you go when you need more time," LaVelle said.

LaVelle says CPM donated thousands of single space meter poles and housings to the city so that bicycle parking is protected.

ABC7 asked several businesses in the 7100-block of Clark Street how the new parking boxes have affected their businesses. Miguel Hernandez of Supermercado Chapala likes the new parking boxes.

"This is good for my business. Used to be a lot of people, they come and park three, four, five hours. People come to shop, they don't find the parking," said Hernandez.

Other stores say the new boxes have not been good for business.

"It's kind of hard. People are having a hard time to get parking space," said Mario Marsh, Cafeteria y Pupuseria Frida.

"People don't want to get a ticket," said Elizabeth Arreguin, China Hut.

Chicago resident Manuel Cisneros says the new meters stop him from shopping in the neighborhood. Monday, he had to see his dentist and was forced to visit the area.

"A lot of times, the cops come by before the time is out," said Cisneros.

"We are committed to make the system meet the needs of the parking public. So it's not a perfect system. It didn't start out perfect, and there may still be things that need to be adjusted," said LaVelle.

When the new meters were first put into place, officials said there would a parking meter increase. Monday, LaVelle said it's yet to be determined what the increase will be, but it will be announced next week.

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