Evanston aldermen tonight are scheduled to vote on a plan to spend nearly $1.1 million on new parking meters and pay boxes.

The proposed contract is with the city’s existing provider — Duncan Systems of Milwaukee.

City officials say Duncan offered the best price of the three finalists for the contract and proposed using the smallest number of pay boxes and the largest number of single-head meters.

Although officials have hoped to reduce clutter on the streetscape by cutting back on the number of single-head meters, they’ve also run into a lot of complaints from residents about inconveniences in using the pay boxes — especially ones that require drivers to return to their car after paying to place a receipt on the windshield.

Duncan is proposing using 1,225 single-head meters and 44 pay stations. The other two vendors proposed about a third as many meters and three times as many pay stations.

The new meters and pay stations, which have been tested in several spots around town, will accept payment by credit card as well as with coins.

Officials say they plan to launch a “public engagement process” to determine which areas will get meters and which will get the pay boxes once the contract is approved, and that the mix of the two types of units may change based on that process.

Aldermen tonight are also scheduled to approve a three year extension of a contract with Duncan subsidiary Proffesional Account Management to run much of the city’s parking ticket management and payment processing operation.

That deal includes a 10 percent reduction in the cost to the city of handling each ticket.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Credit card meters are the way to go

    Payboxes in downtown would be just one more thing discouraging people from outside of Evanston from coming into downtown.  The bike lanes have already caused more negative comments, way more than parking tickets, that I have ever heard and pay boxes would only add to that. 

    Credit card meters are the way to go and get rid of all the useless junk recently placed on Church Street. to reduce the clutter. 


  2. What a bunch of lazies!

    How lazy have people become when they can't walk 10-20 feet back to their car to put a ticket in it? Guess none of them have been to Chicago to see the actual spacing of the boxes. They're put in a mid point or multiple points so it's not like you have to walk half a block away. What a bunch of lazies!

  3. Meters: Yes

    I prefer smart meters to pay stations anyday. Not laziness as one of the previous posters stated. There are other factors to consider.

  4. No to payboxes

    The existing payboxes in downtown Evanston are just another reason in a long list of why I avoid going there, and instead, choose Wilmette or even Old Orchard.

    And it's not about being lazy, as another poster said. I suppose he/she has never had the experience of parking with small children (do you leave them in the car unattended while you pay or do you haul them out of the car so you can walk half a block and then double back?).

    Just when I think Evanston has made shopping downtown as inconvenient as possible, the city surprises me with yet another consumer unfriendly parking restriction or obstacle.

    1. Correct

      Correct, you take them out of your car and encourage them not to be lazy as well. The extra 5 minutes out of your day will not affect you. If you spend money on gas to drive to a different town than I don't know if its possible for you to comprehend math and savings by just using little energy to walk and pay.

  5. Ann Arbor got it right

    I'm actually bummed that they are going with more single meters and less payboxes.  The reduction in street clutter is really a wonderful sight to see.  Check it out next time you are in Ann Arbor MI.  I am quite surprised that I've seen no mention of considering the type of payboxes they went with in Ann Arbor.  The parking spots are numbered so you tell the paybox which spot you are in so you don't have to backtrack and put a ticket in your window.  This also makes ticketing of expired spaces easier for the parking patrol.  I wish I had been living here when the process started so I could have brought this type of meter to the city's attention.  Too late now it seems.

  6. Put me in the meters camp

    I do a lot of business in Chicago and have used payboxes there many many times – I have hundreds of paybox receipts for my tax records to prove it.  I definitely prefer meters over payboxes.  Often, I'm able to find parking right in front of where I need to run a quick errand into a business.  How annoying to instead then have to walk (not 20 feet but) a half a block to a paybox (plus the walk back if I have a ticket in hand).  Once there, I may have to stand in line behind 3 or 4 other people paying their fee to get a receipt.  The real insult happens when the box is either out of receipts OR the credit card feature is out of order – forcing a walk of another half block or more to the next paybox (*see note regarding credit card vs. cash).  And often the business I'm trying to get to is in the opposite direction of the nearest paybox – making the walk even further.  Now – it's not that I'm lazy or don't enjoy exercise – but time is money and what should be a brief errand becomes a drawn out ordeal.  I can't imagine having in tow small children (as noted by another poster) and the poster feeling unsympathetic to this is simply ignorant or inconsiderate – walk in the shoes of a mother sometime.  The most fun happens when you've been away from your car so long trying to get the little windshield decal that one of the parking enforcers is studying your car getting ready to write you a ticket.  That's a joy I've had happen more than once.  Bottom line – while the concept of the paybox seems neat and tidy – in my experiences with them, I much much prefer the meters for a variety of reasons and conveniences.   (Note: I now always pay by credit card. Why?  In Chicago districts where the hourly fee is quite high – $8/hr or more – and you dump that many quarters into the paybox only to have it fail to give you a receipt because of a jam or lack of paper – try calling the service number on the paybox.  They'll tell you they can only issue a refund if you have proof of payment by credit card.  Cash payments aren't refundable if the machine fails to vend.  I've been burned enough times I've learned the hard way … I carry a special limited value prepaid card (for fraud purposes) and always pay by credit card.  It's also better for income tax recordkeeping – I spend several thousand dollars a year on parking because of business errands.)  I'm happy the City of Evanston has been thoughtful enough to consider meters and judicious in their plans for payboxes.

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