Parking meter prices to go up in January

December 29, 2009 (CHICAGO) In the span of just one year, the price to park at a downtown meter will have gone up more than 41 percent.

The company that now controls Chicago's parking meters says it's a small price to pay given all the improvements they've made. Parkers can now pay with credit cards, transfer remaining time from one spot to another and more effectively report meter malfunctions.

Bruce and Joyce Lowis say in this economic climate their Roger's Park pawn shop should be thriving. It's not, and they place the blame just outside their front door.

"I carry a pocket full of quarters. Anytime a customer comes in I say, 'did you drive? Did you pay the meter? If not, here's one dollar worth of quarters,'" Bruce Lowis said.

Subsidizing parking is just one way Chicago business owners have tried to counter parking prices. Next week, it'll cost more.

Beginning January 4th, rates at meters in the Loop will go up 75 cents, to $4.25 for an hour.

If you're outside the Loop but park between North Avenue, Halsted and Roosevelt Road, you'll pay an extra 50 cents, bringing the hourly price to park to $2.50.

Rates throughout the rest of the city will increase a quarter.

The Mayor and City Council agreed to the annual rate hikes when they signed over control of the parking meters to a private firm in exchange for just under $1.2 billion in upfront cash.

"You would think a company that wants to have a 75-year relationship with the city of Chicago would acknowledge the missteps over the last year, and maybe give consumers a break," said Ald. Joe Moore, 49th Ward.

"Nobody likes to pay more but it's a vastly improved system than the one we had," said Avis Lavelle, Chicago Parking Meters LLC Spokesperson.

How does the new $4.25 an hour price to park in the Loop compare to other cities?

In LA, the price to park on the street is $4 an hour. In San Francisco, it's $3.50. New York and Washington DC street parking costs $2.

"In my opinion, it's just greed because you're better off having five cars park there for $1 per hour than having no cars park there for $2 per hour. You're getting nothing," Joyce Lowis said.

It'll take about a month to adjust all of the parking pay stations to the new amounts. Between now and then, you should pay the amount posted on each individual payment machine.

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