After hearing complaints from merchants about issues with the new parking pay station system that’s replacing traditional on-street parking meters in Evanston, city officials say they’re making one change and considering others.

And, no, the changes being considered don’t include rolling back the increase in on-street parking rates from $1 to $1.50 per hour.

But Assistant City Manager Erika Storlie says the city has reduced the “lockout” period between parking sessions in a zone imposed by the pay stations and the Park Evanston mobile app to 30 minutes from several hours.

The “lockout” concept is designed to keep metered parking available for business customers and discourage employee parking in those areas. A similar rule applied to the old parking meters but was more difficult to effectively enforce.

The transition to the new system led to a surge in reports to the city’s 311 system of broken meters and pay station as more than 800 meters were taken out of service and replaced with about 80 pay stations.

Data for the month of April so far suggests the number of complaints is continuing to subside.

The City Council is expected on April 29 to consider a recommendation from the Transportation and Parking Committee that the two-hour meter parking limit be increased to three hours to better accommodate businesses whose customers may want to linger longer than the long-standing two hour limit allows.

The city’s parking app now imposes a 35-cent convenience fee for each transaction, and in return the vendor provides the app to the city for no charge. After hearing complaints about the fee, officials say they’re exploring alternative ways to pay for the service.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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