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Meters discourage commuter parking at threatened CTA stop

While Evanston officials try to persuade the Chicago Transit Authority not to close the South Boulevard Purple Line stop, a city decision to install parking meters across from the station appears to be discouraging its use.

While Evanston officials try to persuade the Chicago Transit Authority not to close the South Boulevard Purple Line stop, a city decision to install parking meters across from the station appears to be discouraging its use.

Empty meters on Chicago Avenue north of South Boulevard on a recent Monday afternoon.

As Evanston Now readers have pointed out, meters recently installed along Chicago Avenue in the block north of South Boulevard have driven cars away from the closest parking to the station.

Although the meters permit 12 hour parking for a rate of 25-cents for every 75 minutes, much less than that charged at many other meters in town, the entire block was completely berift of cars when checked on two recent occasions by Evanston Now.

That contrasts with the situation before the meters were installed, captured in a Google Street View image, that shows many, but not all, of the spaces filled.

Google Street View image of cars parked on the same block before meters were installed.

The chairman of Evanston's Transportation/Parking Committee, Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, and Parking Division Manager Rickey Voss have so far not responded to emailed requests to comment on the situation.

But Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jonathan Perman, a member of the committee, says the city should be doing what it can to encourage more usage of the station, which is proposed for closure under several long-range modernization plans being considered by the transit authority. 

Perman said residents who live near a transit stop often complain about out-of-town commuters parking in their neighborhood, but those commuters help prove there's sufficient demand for the transit amentities that the residents themselves depend upon, as well as shopping at local businesses on their way too and from the station.

For a cost-sensitive commuter, the price of parking a full day at the new meters would be roughly the same as an extra one-way fare on the train.

On an average weekday last year, 768 people entered the Purple Line at the South Boulevard stop, the second lowest number for the eight stops on the line.

Update 12:00 p.m.: Alderman Wynne now says she plans to discuss the situation with Voss soon. We hope to have an update on the story early next week.

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