Evanston aldermen Monday night approved a $1.1 million contract to replace the city’s 30-year-old inventory of parking meters with new ones that will let parkers pay with credit cards as well as cash.

A sample of the new meters displayed on a table during the City Council meeting.

Evanston aldermen Monday night approved a $1.1 million contract to replace the city’s 30-year-old inventory of parking meters with new ones that will let parkers pay with credit cards as well as cash.

The contract, with the city’s current meter vendor, Duncan Solutions of Milwaukee, also offers the city the option of installing pay stations to substitute for meters at some locations.

But several aldermen objected to the “pay and display” version of pay boxes — that require motorists to return to their cars and put a receipt on their dashboards after depositing their money.

Widespread adoption of that model in the City of Chicago has led to an array of complaints from residents.

The aldermen were more receptive to pay stations paired with numbered parking spaces, that let drivers punch in their space number at the pay station and avoid a return trip to their cars to display a receipt.

Both versions are already in use at some Evanston locations — “pay and display” ones on Church Street downtown and the “pay by space” versions in some of the city’s smaller parking garages.

City staff said they plan to hold public outreach meetings in each neighborhood that has parking meters before deciding what mix of meters and pay boxes to use.

Under the Duncan contract a single pay box will cost as much as 19 parking meters — so they would only make economic sense where they can replace a lot of meters.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Did I hear Richard Daley there…

    Sounds like another idea borrowed from Chicago.

    And we all know how that is turning out !

    1. The Deal Daley Should Have Considered

      This is far better than Chicago's system.  Meters that accept credit cards is smart.  A paybox in lots with numbered spaces is smart.  What's dumb are payboxes where you have to walk a half a block, wait in line behind others unsure of how to use the box, have problems because the box is out of receipts so it takes your money but doesn't issue you your receipt, then the joy of walking to another box that works and finally back to your car – when the business you were trying to get to was either right in front of where your parked or off in the direction opposite to where the paybox(es) were.  Chicago's system has aggravated more times than I care to count.  I think Evanston has come to a smart decision – as long as the implementation of the paybox placement is as smart as the decision to go with credit-card-smart meters and pay-by-the-number payboxes.

    2. The main issue in Chicago is

      The main issue in Chicago is that they have lost control of their parking system.  Had they invested in the improved infrastructure themselves, it would be fine.  The parking rates needed to go up to help control utilization.  The City could've used that increased parking revenue to pay for the investment and fund other needed transportation improvements in the areas that revenue was generated.  Now the private operators get the revenue and the lack of control over curbside space in the city has more consequences than they ever thought (i.e., payments for displaced parking during construction, impeding some development opportunities and/or good design to avoid paying for lost parking that's in the way, coming up with extended hours in some places to balance free parking on Sundays for others, etc.). 

  2. Good idea

    The credit card meter in the photo is pretty slick. Good idea for people like me who rarely carry cash, let alone a pocket full of change.

  3. What happened to pay by phone?

    I had thought I heard that the city planned to implement pay by phone parking in conjunction with this meter changeover project.  I've used it in other cities and you can pay for parking even before you get out of your vehicle.  It's as easy as it gets. 

    Anyway, if that's the case, this should quell the "fears"  of those that seem to have a problem with walking a few feet back to their cars with a receipt.  Boy, have we as a society ever gotten lazy.  The new pay stations on Church Street do make the streets look a lot cleaner without all those meter posts lining the street.  it's a real nice look for busier areas. 

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