Are Chicagoans Rebelling Against The New Parking Meter Regime?

The evidence is purely anecdotal, but it seems that some unrest might be brewing in the City of Chicago. Now that the Mayor has leased the city’s parking meters to a company that jacked up the rates, people might be staying home rather than feed the meters — which now take as many as 28 quarters for 2 hours.

All over the city, formerly busy parking meters are empty, while residential streets are clogged with people looking for free parking.

From the Sun-Times:

Only five Chicago aldermen bucked the mayor on the privatization of parking meters, and one was Scott Waguespack of the 32nd Ward, which includes Wicker Park and Bucktown. It wasn’t that Waguespack opposed raising rates, something that hadn’t been done in years, but he believed an increase should be “incremental, not drastic” and that the city could have done it on its own.

Now, he says, people in his ward are suddenly seeing not only empty meters but more cars clogging residential neighborhoods in search of free spaces, a problem for people who live there.

The whole purpose of parking meters was as an urban planning tool, used to generate turnover so businesses could see a steady stream of customers who park for a short time, shop and leave, opening spaces for more shoppers.

Now, Waguespack argues, spaces have become solely “a revenue anchor” and the rates have shot “too high, too quickly.”

Are we seeing a boycott?

“I’m not so sure yet,” said the alderman, “but it’s definitely a refusal.”

Boycott, boycott, boycott…

Parking meter rate hike sparks a rebellion [Sun-Times via Fark]
(Brian Jackson/Sun-Times)


Edit Your Comment

  1. GildaKorn says:

    28 quarters? That’s ridiculous. Chicago would have been somewhat wise to install credit card kiosks like those used in Seattle (and other areas). They’re solar powered, take change (up to 25 coins), and handle card purchases as low as 25 cents. One drawback to the change is that Visa will require that Chicago mandate a 25 cent minimum for parking. But it doesn’t sound like that would be a big deal here, at $3.50 per hour.

    • FSugino says:

      @GildaKorn: I believe that’s what the new company plans to do, but they just took over jurisdiction of the meters a few weeks ago.


    • juri squared says:

      @GildaKorn: The privatization deal mandates that credit cards be accepted within six months, so those devices are coming.

      In the meantime, there are widespread reports of meters breaking because they are stuffed full of quarters. Ooops.

      • enm4r says:

        @jurijuri: As mentioned, there are the kiosks for most of the heavily parked areas. But they don’t yet cover the whole city. It’s a major issue, but they definitely have taken many of the meters away in favor of the kiosks.

    • sleze69 says:

      @GildaKorn: What happens when a meter fills up and cannot accept any more quarters? Are you still allowed to park there?

  2. Randy Treibel says:

    This is the perfect example of capitalism working itself out. The market has decided that it’s worth it to drive or walk an extra block or two and park somewhere else than it is to pay several dollars and hour to park close.

    • dragonfire81 says:

      @Randy Treibel: agreed $7 an hour is ridiculously expensive.

      Most of the time when I go into a big city, I take public transit. Sure it has its drawbacks, but its cheaper than paying to park and I don’t have to worry about finding a place to park a care in a busy downtown core.

    • satoru says:

      @Randy Treibel: Capitalism can’t really work here because demand is somewhat inelastic. You’re always going to have people going into the city. So despite the price increase, you don’t have a corresponding decrease in demand. Also there isn’t any actual competition, unless you count parking lots. Though I assume that there must not be many parking lots, since those should see a corresponding increase in business as people are ‘driven’ (haha) to them due to the high cost of meter parking.

      • tc4b says:

        @satoru: Still, it seems they are pricing themselves out of the market. Your statement about ‘inelastic demand’ seems to not be entirely true, based on the limited evidence in this story.

      • ADismalScience says:

        @satoru: @tc4b:

        Guys, christ, look: stop. You are actually giving me a headache here.

      • kmw2 says:

        @satoru: Inelastic demand doesn’t imply that “capitalism doesn’t work”, it just implies that the reaction will be slower. In this case, it’s probably been several months of ridiculous parking situations, and demand is beginning to fall despite its relative inelasticity. The next step will undoubtedly be canny entrepreneurs snapping up empty lots and charging $3.50 for parking.

    • mzs says:

      @Randy Treibel: The problem is that two or three blocks away is permit parking only and the people with out permits park in those spots and then the people that live there have no place to park. Sadly you hardly ever see tickets in those areas and the people that get them simply ignore them.

      • enm4r says:

        @mzs: Not sure where you live, but in and around lakeview I’ve seen an increase in tickets. Also amusing to see most of the meters that had been full empty in favor of the “free” parking. But I have definitely seen more city tickets…which wouldn’t surprise me if the city accounted for this when privatizing the meters.

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      @Randy Treibel: So, what part of Capitalism was it when Chicago made the streets (paid for with taxes), put up parking meters (paid for with taxes and proceeds of meters), and handed it off to a private company to basically control all the parking in town?

  3. It's not my baby, baby! says:

    When did paying a parking attendant 11.00/hr become so great a burden that the service had to be privatized?

    Now they have a person making 9.00/hr doing the same job and they’ve raised rates above equilibrium.


  4. minneapolisite says:

    I live in a “critical parking area” in Minneapolis. This means that if nearby consumers are too cheap to pay the meters around the corner and instead park on my residential street, I can’t park near my home. This means that I often have to carry groceries through snow, ice, and wind through a dangerous neighborhood at night. Yes, it’s my choice to live here, but if my city privatized its parking meters in the way Chicago did, my daily life would be inconvenienced and endangered.

    • youaredumb says:

      @minneapolisite: If you have to park around the corner from your home and then suddenly you are in an unsafe neighborhood maybe you should worry more about moving than parking rates…

    • Corporate_guy says:

      @minneapolisite: Put in your own personal meter. Write your own tickets.

    • howtragic says:


      You should write your city council and ask that they do what LA does: People who live in the neighborhood are the only ones to park their from 6 pm to 8 am. In between those times, there is a two hour max for people without the permit. It actually works quite well. The only problem is that they issue these permits in neighborhoods with single family homes where everyone has a garage. Result: lots of unused parking.

  5. satoru says:

    Montreal’s parking is $3/hour which is pretty high. But they provide you a great benefit. The parking spots are all labeled. If you walk across town and need to refill the meter, you just walk up to ANY of the kiosks, type in your parking spot label and pay. No need to go back and put stupid stickers or sheets of paper in your car.

    Of course at $3/hour it doesn’t really make sense to stay in one spot for more than about 3-4 hours before just parking at a lot is more cost effective. Still I thought it was a decent idea.

    • tc4b says:

      @satoru: Genius. I hope the next big city I visit has this. Actually, the wife and I have been thinking about Montreal for a while now…

    • Corporate_guy says:

      @satoru: Do they support internet or text message payments? If you could pay by just texting the spot number to a specific number that would be pretty awesome. As well texting a command to get the time left.

      • madog says:

        @Corporate_guy: Ahhh lazy technology.

        Is there any way they could develop a thought analyzer to pay the meter? Moving my hands and fingers for texting/typing is too much for me.

  6. Mooshie says:

    On the brighter side, Chicago will be getting more exercise.

  7. lpranal says:

    What’s that? 28 quarters? hmmm… i seem to be short. I do happen to have some thermite handy, however.

  8. Brian Parisi says:

    I wouldn’t mind the increased rates if it weren’t for the expanded hours. It used to be that I could go out for dinner at 5:30, put one quarter in the meter and forget about it since many meters only had to be paid until 6pm.

    Now it seems like they ALL have to be paid until 9 which means if I want to go to a bar or movie after dinner I have to hike back to the goddamned meter to feed it again at 7:30. If I have after dinner plans I have to make sure I park AFTER 7 so I don’t have to feed the meter again. It’s a pain in the ass that has resulted in me going out less.

    • tc4b says:

      @Brian Parisi: …or just go out in the suburbs.

      • mac-phisto says:

        @tc4b: & this is eventually what will happen, causing a huge drain of business from the downtown area. epic fail, chicago.

    • mzs says:

      @Brian Parisi: Yeah it was cool to do that, now I have to use parking garages or valets. Both turned-out to be fine. The annoying thing is the areas and places that do not have nearby parking lots or valet service. You have to go and feed the meter until 9pm now.

    • cozynite says:

      @Brian Parisi: Actually when they “leased” these meters, the hours are now 24/7. During holidays, you would get a break from not paying. Not anymore. I think I will just take more public transportation than I usually do. Screw them.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I am a Chicagoan and this is a hot issue that has me all riled up. There are those who say “Stop whining and walk or drive,” but that doesn’t stop the fact that this is a terrible deal for the city and over-taxed Chicagoans. I walked yesterday to a neighborhood called Andersonville. I noticed a string of meters on a bustling part of Clark Street were flashing “E.” There was a forlorn family huddled around a meter looking generally confused and panicked.

    For more anecdotal evidence, look no further than this Web site. I discovered it in the comments section of a Friday 3-20 Chicago Tribune article. A YMCA resident actually beat a parking meter with a concrete block. Clearly, people are frustrated.

  10. Chumas says:

    Easy Solution:
    #1. Check to see when the Chicago PD has its shift change and when the lowest density of police officers are on the road.
    #2. Support local hardware store by purchasing 12 pound lump hammer.
    #3. Apply lump hammer “Fight-Club” style to multiple meters in order to disable them, not destroy. Bashing the glass and the change slot would be good. It often costs way more to replace parts than to change out the whole system.
    #4. If 2/3 are too aggressive for you, a caulking gun full of epoxy or silicone works just as well in the coin slot.
    #5 Cackle as you see news reports of the private company decrying the vandalism of their meters.

    Remember to wear gloves and a Guy Fawkes mask!

    • mac-phisto says:

      @Chumas: i prefer the bottle of whiskey/pipe-cutter method myself…

    • SharkD says:

      @Chumas: Breaking/disabling the meters won’t make a difference — part of the problem is that the higher rate meters are filling up much faster and breaking as a result. If you park in a space with a broken meter, you get a ticket — it doesn’t matter that you can’t pay, only that you didn’t.

  11. Mobius says:

    It’s only a matter of time before boycott turns into vandalism.

    • kerry says:

      @Mobius: I saw someone actually kicking one of the privatized meters yesterday. They require payment from 6am-9pm, 7 days a week. Glad I don’t have a car.

  12. exploded says:

    I’m avoiding the parking meters like the plague now. On Saturday I went to get my hair cut, rather than parking right out front of the salon (as I would normally do), I parked a 5 minute walk away, on a residential street with no permit required. This works for places away from the city center (I was at Damen & Lawrence), but if you’re anywhere where parking is normally a problem, it makes things exponentially worse, because street parking isn’t really an option.

    One thing I haven’t heard talk about is that we pay the highest sales tax rate in the nation at 10.25%. Why are we being fleeced for even more?

  13. Justin Larson says:

    @Randy Treibel: Yep, watching a company with a monopoly on a public good (the side of the street outside store x) raise prices way past the equilibrium point is a pretty good show of capitalism at work… Too bad the other capitalists (the stores) have to suffer.

  14. logicalnoise says:

    @chumas why not just go the ole cool hand luke method. and cut the pipe supportting the meter?

  15. jp7570 says:

    This approach by Chicago misses the point entirely. This is especially confusing when the Mayor purports to be “green”.

    The better alternative was to remove the meters entirely, in favor of a “muni-meter” system – a box that dispenses parking permits to be displayed on the car’s dash or inside the window (via an adhesive strip) for a specific section, usually that blcok only. These are currrently used across the US, including NYC and Portland, among other cities.

    Benefits are that the parking rates can be varied remotely by the City depending on demand, time of day, day of the week, etc. They can also be paid for with credit cards and (in Portland anyway) by cell phones.

    Individual parking meters are no longer an efficient system. These “muni-meters” are more reliable and require less man-power to collect payments.

    Pay parking is a disincentive to use cars in congested urban core areas. Parking pricing plans must be thought out concurrently with the pricing of other transportation alternatives, namely bus and rail. Traffic management is a comprehensive approach, not just a pricing game to increase revenue from a single source. The idea is to achieve a balance between convenience and resource conservation.

    If Chicago is really serious about this, their parking policy would be combined with a type of resident-only parking permit system for these nearby neighborhoods. Pain in the neck? Yes, but it works in DC and other congested cities where resident parking is in short supply. In those areas, non-residents should not intrude in a neighborhood just to save some money.

    The above approaches have been used by US cities for several years. Chicago needs to change with the times, not just charge $14/hour in quarters.

    • gretch9er says:

      @jp7570: They do have a neighborhood parking system already in place. The permits cost residents (who must prove residency) extra. The problem is, these areas are little policed/ticketed in terms of parking. The result is that at “popular times” (read, weekends), residents often have a very hard time finding parking. I’m not kidding even a little when I say that when I used to have a car, it would sometimes take me 1-2 hours to find a spot on the weekends.

    • Corporate_guy says:

      @jp7570: They should use window stickers that have a barcode on them. Then the enforcer just has to run a scanner over them and print out a ticket if necessary and the person does not have to get a new slip/sticker every time they park.

  16. ThickSkinned says:

    We need a serious revolution in this country. If the first step is boycotting asinine parking meters, so be it.

    • Corporate_guy says:

      @ThickSkinned: I think it’s a great idea, because the city gets paid no matter what. If the private company who “bought” these spaces can’t earn anything, private companies won’t be buying up parking spaces anymore. Plus the current one could be driven into bankruptcy as revenge.

  17. metaled says:

    You will see a lot of businesses fail in the area. So what if there is a sale in the area, I don’t walk around with 20-odd quarters in my pocket and I am not going to risk having to pay hundreds of dollars for a ticket. I’ll just go somewhere else that allows me to park for free. People are pinching pennies, willing to go out of their way to save a few bucks. Not willing to pay a few bucks for convenience in this day and age.
    You will see businesses torn down and be turned into parking lots, park for $10 all day! and not risk a ticket…. I have a feeling these business districts are going to see an economic downturn and the small guy being forced out by the Mayor’s decision.

  18. David Brodbeck says:

    @jp7570: They use those pay boxes in Seattle, too. They work pretty well, although motorcyclists complain that the tags are often stolen off their rides. If you pay with a credit card and that happens you can use the receipt to contest the ticket. (I do this when I park my convertible with the top down, although so far I’ve never had a tag stolen.)

    You also have to watch out, because they’ll mark spaces in front of fire hydrants and then ticket you if you park in them.

    On the plus side, the tags are universal — you can drive to another spot and park in it on the same tag if you still have time left.

    • Ninja007 says:

      @David Brodbeck: yeah, I have an awesome way to defeat that sticker system. Save up a million of those little stickers and put them on a hanger that hangs from your window crack. That way when you park you have a million stickers on your window and the meter maid would have to check every single one to find the current sticker. They probably won’t do that so you can park for free hahahaha

    • thebigbluecheez says:

      @David Brodbeck: Here in Portland, our stickers have a receipt that prints at the same time, regardless of payment method. I’ve never had anyone steal the sticker off my bike, but if I did, I keep the receipt part (which tears off from the stick-to-your-window part) in my pocket. It also helps me remember what time I have to leave.

      Win-win! (Win!)

  19. ophmarketing says:


    It’s already happened.


  20. Chumas says:

    Cheaper to replace the whole meter, and much more quickly too. The method I’m suggesting means a technician coming out to repair, about 2 hours of labor worth of time.

  21. catskyfire says:

    Chumas : Sounds nice, except for the A: Illegality of it. and B: Parking at, or being found parking at, a disabled meter still gets someone a ticket. So someone who DID put in the money gets a ticket because the meter is now disabled.

    Overall, this is a good example of why privatization is not always a positive. Some things are, disturbingly enough, best done by the government.

  22. David Brodbeck says:

    Oh, one other thing about the pay boxes. I notice the clocks are almost always ahead of real time. It’s struck me that if they calibrated them to run a little fast overall they could skim more revenue over time, since each minute you paid for would be a little shorter than an actual minute. It’d be interesting for someone who lives near one of these boxes ought to sync a known accurate clock to it and see if this is what they’re up to.

    • Oddfool says:

      @David Brodbeck: Ahead of real time depends on how much ahead of real time, depending on whose clock you are using. But if the clock is calibrated to run fast (i.e. shorter time per minute) then a division of Weights and Measures should be contacted to check and certify the device.

  23. rugman11 says:

    Heh, downtown parking in my town is a nickel an hour and you can pay a penny for 12 minutes. Gotta love small(ish) town living.

  24. SicBoy34 says:

    I work in River North (the neighborhood immediately north of the Loop, just across the river) and I’m still seeing all meters and spaces being used just as much as they were prior to the pricing changes (difficult to find an open spot). Very weird. I’m not sure where people are getting all of these quarters.

  25. Chumas says:

    I could care less about the legality of it, as I’ve been doing something similar in my own home town for the past year.
    There is an intersection with a redlight camera facing only one direction which has caused quite a few accidents and one death because of people trying to dodge through, etc. The town council has refused to remove the camera because they gain revenue from it, well, did until I started shooting the lens out a year ago with a very large slingshot.
    Since then, no deaths and fewer accidents. Sometimes one must justify vandalism for the greater good and safety.

  26. exploded says:

    I just did the math, and I think the city was SERIOUSLY underpaid for the parking meters.

    1.15B works out to 15M/yr or $42,000/Day. There are 35,000 parking meters. With the rates at a minimum of $1.00 an hour each parking meter has GOT to be generating $2.00/day. That’s going to double in 2013. Assuming that each meter makes conservatively $2.00/day without increase for the next 75 years, Morgan Stanley will make at MINIMUM 1.916B in gross profit. I realize they have to take operating costs out of that.

    Still, the city was completely short sighted and stupid to take away a constant and growing stream of revenue for pennies on the dollar. Parking tickets alone could pay for the operating costs, the rest would be pure profit!

    Either that or the Mayor’s nephew works at Morgan Stanley and is up for a big promotion.

  27. says:

    Ahhh the law of unintended consequences!

  28. squablow says:

    This kind of bullshit is why I love small town living. I am 28 and I have never paid any money into a parking meter. Ever.

    I realize in a big city you have to have some kind of regulation on the parking, or people would leave shit parked in front of active businesses for weeks at a time. But 28 quarters? That’s insane. And since it’s Chicago, someone’s getting a cut which ensures that it’ll stay that way for a long time.

  29. Winterfall007 says:

    @ exploded

    I agree. Our tax here in Chicago is insane. I work at GameStop (I know. Evil.), and people complain how they have to pay an extra $6.14 for a $60 game. The recent Resident Evil 5 Collector’s Edition was $90. There’s roughly $10 in tax!

    And they want to raise it to 10.7%. Do they want people to live in this city?

    We have a joke at work when it comes to the city tax. We say, “Thanks Todd Stroger”.

  30. Corncob says:

    St. Louis is still $0.50 per hour

  31. jc364 says:

    There need to be more public protests in this country. I would say that this deserves one.

  32. jake.valentine says:

    Rake people over the coals with high taxes (face it, parking fees are a hidden form of taxation) and the people will eventually say “enough!!!!”

  33. exploded says:

    @wallspray (reply isn’t working for me) – I realize that parking tickets still go to the city. What my point is, is that the city could fund the entire parking system with parking tickets alone. The revenue brought in from meters would essentially be all profit.

    Rather than splitting the cost for a comparitively meager up-front cost, the city could have kept it, and had a major source of income.

  34. Skater009 says:

    Lame City shit.

  35. Anonymous says:

    I live on a small one way street near Wrigley. Now I never move my car unless I have to. If I have to move my car I go and do my business in the subburbs, where I can get free abundant parking and get all of my shopping done in a few stops. Parking is so bad by me, that I am just considering moving out to the burbs, where there are no parking tickets, city sticker fees, and no .25 buys you only 7 min meters.


  36. HiPwr says:

    Perhaps Daley will come up with some kind of “not parking at meter” tax/penalty.

  37. Borax-Johnson says:

    What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate

  38. diasdiem says:

    Cue the opening scene from Cool Hand Luke

  39. usa_gatekeeper says:

    Now Chicago will probably initiate the next part of their plan, on the nearby residential streets:

    (1) Issue expensive and hard-to-get resident parking stickers at a hefty (renew annually) fee,
    (2) erect “Resident Parking Only” signs on the residential streets, then
    (3) start ticketing the hell out of violators on the residential streets.

    A real money maker. At least it is in Boston, Massachusetts.

  40. Anonymous says:

    The article doesn’t mention it and a lot of your comments don’t seem to understand that Chicago didn’t jack up the rates as a traffic or congestion altering program. The rates went sky high because Chicago can’t seem to make a proper budget and thus leased the meters for 75 yrs to a private company for an outrageous amount of money.

  41. Peter Nincompoop says:

    I normally wouldn’t feel bad about people getting raked over the coals by parking meters when they can utilize reliable public transportation, but the ‘L’ trains are far from reliable. Anybody who’s visited Chicago or lives there will tell you:

    1. You can wait upwards of 30-40 minutes for a subway train to show up when they should be arriving every 8-11 minutes.

    2. Not everyone lives near the subway and the number of park-n-rides are minimal. Where they do exist, you’re gambling by leaving your car there.

    3. It’s not always convenient to ride the subway, especially when your nearest station is closed for over a year for renovations. If this happens to be the station closest to where you work, you’ll likely be walking an additional 1/2 to 3/4 miles to your destination.

    4. Trains and buses tend to be occupied beyond capacity during rush hour, so here’s to a excessively cramped and uncomfortable trip!

    5. Dress extra warm in the winter because if you have to transfer trains, you’ll probably have to wait in elevated, open air stations for the connecting train. See #1…

    6. Due to the obvious lack of transit police, you better like getting sized up by drunks and getting hit up for your spare change every 2 minutes.

    • JosephFinn says:


      1. Never seen or heard of such a wait unless there’s an emergency.

      2 & 3. That’s why we have a bus system, and since when is 3/4 of a mile more than a five minute walk?

      5. You mean we should dress warm in the winter in Chicago? Wow, what a concept.

      6. Don’t know what it’s like in small towns like Cleveland, but living in Chicago almost all my life I’ve encountered a panhandler only once on the CTA. Now buskers, that’s a different problem,

      • chrishickman says:

        @JosephFinn: I disagree that 9 MPH is “walking” speed (.75 miles in 5 minutes). 4 MPH is a pretty brisk walk and by my calculation that puts it at 11.25 minutes.

        Also, referring to Cleveland as a small town is pretty condescending…it’s one of the top 40 cities population-wise and its metro area has over 2 million. I’m from Chicago, BTW.

  42. savdavid says:

    This is a perfect example of greed and corruption.

  43. ADismalScience says:

    Toss this crap. Throw meters in the garbage and drop a revenue-neutral sales tax on the stores as well as a congestion payroll tax on employees. You don’t have to pay people to monitor, maintain, or install meters. Use a gas tax to replace tollbooths. It’s simple, relatively cheap, and accomplishes the goal of funding public utility.

    Oh, wait. All of those worthless toll collecting, ticket-writing assholes are represented by obstructionist unions.

    • David Brodbeck says:

      @ADismalScience: The goal of the meters is not just to save money, but to ensure that cars don’t occupy spaces for too long. You still need some way to enforce turnover, which in the absence of meters means meter maids chalking tires.

    • Oddfool says:

      @ADismalScience: David is correct. Meters are for short term parking. The price for parking at a meter should be high enough to encourage people parking for longer periods of time to park in the lots and garages. If you are not charging for parking where the meters are, then the only people who will park there are the store employees, . Customers will still end up either circling around looking for the few (if any)available spaces, paying more for parking lot short-term parking, or going somewhere else with their shopping.

  44. JosephFinn says:

    Lordy, how I love my CTA card. If you’re living in the city, there’s no need to drive everywhere. If it’s people coming into the city and they’re driving when we have a very good Metra system, then I have no sympathy.

  45. R3PUBLIC0N says:

    I expect a bailout of the parking meter contractor within the hour.

  46. tc4b says:

    @ADismalScience: While you, on the other hand, are making me chuckle. Like Andy Rooney, grumpy old men do that to me. BTW, did you have a point? No, don’t tell me, pointless griping is so much more amusing!

    • ADismalScience says:


      I make a point later about a more perfect system, but this was a silly debate. You aren’t looking at the elasticity of parking meters – you’re comparing transportation market choices. More importantly the government is responsible for funding roads, highways, subways, buses, trains, etc. The elasticity of the market is irrelevant, because it’s mostly a series government-sponsored monopolies. Calling a measly decision to take a tiny consumer-facing piece of that market and put it in a contractor’s hands “privatization” is akin to calling a styrofoam model of an F-16 a fighter jet.

  47. Plates says:

    “Only five Chicago aldermen bucked the mayor on the privatization of parking meters.” Which apparently means that only five people didn’t get bribed or refused the bribe or other sort of quid pro quo.

  48. nybiker says:


    1. What’s a busker?

    2. Avg walking speed = 3mph. 1 mile in 20 minutes, 3/4 mile in 15 minutes.

  49. Russ Savage says:

    I’ve been riding a bicycle in chicago for 4 years now, and I can honestly say that it’s the best mode of transportation in the city. I usually beat both cars and public transportation to my destination, and never have to pay parking.. I’m completely outraged at them selling the meters.. but it’s just one more reason not to drive here.. chicago is after all one of the best cities to bike in.

    • David Brodbeck says:

      @Russ Savage: You’re a hardier man than me if you like biking when it’s 20 degrees out and snowing. I live in Seattle, which has a much milder climate, and I consider bicycle commuting strictly a summer pursuit. I admire your tolerance for pain and frostbite. ;)

  50. parad0x360 says:

    I wonder how long the City signed the Contract for? Best bet is to boycott and get this company to drop the price or hope they somehow violate the contract so the City can take them back and try something else.

    Private companies should never be able to take over something like this. If they wanted in on parking so badly the City should have made them buy land and build a place to park.

  51. Dylan Diomede says:

    I live in Chicago. Some areas are $.25 for 7 minutes. The meters are getting too full too fast and when it fails, it means FREE PARKING. The meters also need to be fed on Sundays now. This means that they will need to hire MORE people to empty them which will cost money. I do not think the parking management company, LAZ Parking, will be making much.

    Wouldn’t this constitute a monopoly on the parking?

  52. tc4b says:

    Boo! You ruin it by actually conveying an idea instead of unfocused bitterness.

  53. Peter Nincompoop says:


    You definitely hold minority views of the CTA. Regarding your response to my comments:

    1. The Blue and the Red Line trains run notoriously behind schedule. Try waiting for an O’Hare bound train during off-peak hours or on the weekends. Most of the delays are caused by impromptu track maintainence, reduced speed zones, or by malfunctioning trains. CTA track infrastructure is dangerously outdated because the CTA is seriously underfunded.

    2. Most people can’t run 3/4 of a mile in 5 minutes, no less walk it that quickly. Throw icey and/or unplowed sidewalks into the mix and your walk time doubles.

    3. The buses run on schedule or even close to schedule!? That’s just foolish. Catching a bus is random luck. You can walk to where you’re going before a bus comes by. Try taking the 35X from Sox/35th to Halsted. I’ve walked to Halsted from the station (and vice versa) more times than I can remember before a bus has been in sight. It’s not a short walk.

    4. Wait 20 minutes to transfer trains with freezing wind chill temps negating the effects of the underwhelming heat lamps. You can wear five layers and it still doesn’t keep you warm enough. All the $ spent on renovations and still no shelter for inclimate weather.

    5. If you’ve only encountered pan handlers once, then you’re using the brown line more often then not. I’ve lived in Chicago for five years now and run into them on the trains on an almost daily basis… must be a red and blue line thing.

    6. Transit options in Cleveland are far more restricting than they are in Chicago.

    I usually ride the trains to work, but if parking costs weren’t a huge issue, I would be able to drive to work in a fraction of the time it takes me to get there via the trains.

  54. wskrayen says:

    The contract is for 75 years.

  55. Polly Workinger says:

    Darn good reason to take a train in—oh wait, we don’t HAVE that service from Rockford! No wonder we’re all broke, between gas money, tolls, and parking.

  56. notgoodenough says:

    Its really easy to beat the parking meters – I never pay fines anymore. I guess I am lucky working in an environment where I know about instrument calibration. Parking meters are instruments of measurement for the purpose of income generation. Usually measurement instruments are required by state law to be regularly calibrated to ensure accuracy, and to be maintained in accordance with manufacturers specifications. You can usually find this information on the manufacturers website (Duncan Meters have very good information) Private meter operators don’t like spending money on expensive calibration tests, so they don’t do it until forced. If you receive a ticket against an expired meter, take it to court, ask the company to to produce their current calibration certificate for the meter under question. Even if they produce one, then ask the company to produce their last maintenance record for the meter. Watch the ticket evaporate in front of your eyes when the company is unable to produce either one. There are tens of thousands of meters in major cities. Companies just wont spend the money to either calibrate or maintain those meters. It is cheaper for them to waive the fine.

  57. orlo says:

    An actual rebellion would involve removing the meters.

  58. Anonymous says:

    It now costs $5/hour in Calgary – using ‘Park Plus’, aka. a computerized system that uses cameras to determine if you’ve paid or not, which also means no more using someone else’s paid spot if they leave early.

    And then they wonder why downtown is a dead-zone.

  59. RogueWarrior says:

    They tried the whole speeding camera thing where I live and once the city counsel discovered that they were only going to about 5 cents on the dollar, they put the whole project on hold.

  60. ageshin says:

    All this proves that privatizing a public service is the last thing you want to do. This will go a long way to distroy much of Chicago’s small stores. Daily has been great at saving money by dumping his problems on the private sector. He, at first looks good, but the stink will catch up to him.

  61. MooseOfReason says:

    They just need to overhaul the meters so there’s a kiosk that accepts credit and debit cards.

    Also, start saying “7,000 pennies” if you’re trying to make it sound like a lot of money.

  62. MooseOfReason says:

    Sorry, “700 pennies”.

  63. ds says:

    Chicago is the only city I’ve gotten a parking ticket in (so far, knock on wood). I parked in front of a permit-only area (yes, I’m an idiot, but the show was about to start), and got hit with a $50 ticket. Looking back, I parked there for about 6 hours, so, under the new system, I’m actually still $34 up.

  64. cordeliapotter says:

    Don’t drive, take CTA.

  65. MercyEleusis says:

    Everyone has been giving different suggestions on how to solve this problem; break the meters, glue the slots shut, etc. All illegal. However, I’m surprised no one thought to suggest a legal avenue; stuff the meters full of quarters until they break. Repeat for all meters in the city. The cost to fix them will outweigh what they’ll even collect. And what’s a cop going to do? Take you in for paying the parking meter?

  66. Jerry Houlihan says:

    Definite rebellion. Yesterday, Ohio St. from Franklin to Wells had only ONE car. It is usually packed. I love this new system….I can actually find a space when I need it. Formerly, people would keep their cars in a space all day and come out every two hours and pop a couple quarters in the meter. These are the people who are complaining. It will settle down I’m sure and I think the company that bought the meters is eventually going to swap them out for newer meters that accept cards.

  67. zyodei says:

    There should be some embargo on using the term “privatization” to describe some politically connected bunch of crooks being given a government mandated monopoly on some service.

    How about “Chicago announces new plan to fascitize their parking meters?”

  68. Tom_Servo says:

    Our tax dollars paid to build the streets, the sidewalks and the curbs we park at, how did we end up having to pay to use what we already paid to have in the first place?