The City of Evanston tried out a feature of its electronic parking meters for the first time Monday — resetting the display to show “Holiday” to remind parkers that Memorial Day was a meter holiday. But, City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says, the meters failed to switch back to regular operation on Tuesday.

This morning Evanston Now spotted a crew on Church Street swapping out the guts of meters — dropping in ones that were back to their work-a-day role of demanding payment for parking.

A couple of empty meter housings waiting to have reset meters installed.

Bobkiewicz says workers from meter ventor Civic Smart, formerly Duncan Solutions, worked throughout the day Tuesday but were unable to reset the meters.

He says no parking enforcement will be done at the disabled meters until the issues are resolved.

And, Bobkiewicz says the city has told Civic Smart it expects to be reimbursed for lost revenue and any city staff time involved during the outage.

The repair crew told waiting parkers they’d set the meter to the full two-hour limit for them.

The City Council just last week voted to replace 59 meters in the 1700 block of Sherman Avenue with multi-space pay boxes because the meters are failing — from batteries dying and other problems.

These meters were working again this morning.

Deputy City Manager Erika Storlie told aldermen that when staff complained about the high failure rate, the company’s response was to suggest “buy our new meters” to replace ones the city installed only about four years ago.

Update 12:05 p.m.: Storlie now says about 1,100 of the meters are back in operation, with another 500 to go.

By late this morning all the meters on Church Street seemed to be operating again, but about half the ones on Davis Street were still showing “Holiday” as were nearly all the meters in the 1600 block of Orrington Avenue.

Update 1:40 p.m.: Storlie says the city averages about $8,000 a day in parking meter revenue.

She says many of the meters were able to be updated remotely, but that updating others required plugging each meter into a laptop computer and running a software update.

She says it’s taking about two minutes per meter to conduct that fix and that the company is trying to bring in additional staff to speed the process.

Update 6:40 p.m.: Bobkiewicz says city staff checking meters the vendor says have been fixed are still finding some that aren’t working properly.

He says most downtown meters are back up. Work is expected to continue until 10 p.m. tonight and resume Thursday morning.

The city manager says he hopes all the meters will be working again by sometime during the day Friday.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Did this brilliant city staff

    Did this brilliant city staff we tolerate consider finding another vendor?  Maybe Wally is busy looking for other available jobs!

    1. Another vendor?

      Hi Jheb,

      Ballpark cost for a parking meter is $500. Multiply that by roughly 1,600 remaining meters and it means the “another vendor” solution at this point would cost about $800,000.

      Several vendors were considered before the current meters were purchased, and, at the time, the chosen one looked like the best bet. I think it’s fair to say there’s some buyers remorse about the deal now.

      And, as mentioned in the story, the city is moving to switch to pay stations where it’s feasible, to reduce the number of meters in service and provide additional spares for ones that go bad.

      At the time the decision about new meters was made a few years ago, there was much gnashing of teeth about how horrible the pay station idea was — it was shortly after Chicago switched to pay stations city-wide — and so aldermen here opted to use pay stations only on a limited basis and go mostly with replacement meters for the old ones, which had been in service for something like 30 years and were worn out.

      With many people now paying for parking with their cell phones, and pay stations apparently gradually gaining more acceptance, the days of the individual meters may be numbered.

      — Bill

  2. Evanston parking enforcement

    Evanston parking enforcement is a joke. Especially with all the construction, I park free practically every day in spot with disabled meters.

      1. Yes, I am proud to save my

        Yes, I am proud to save my hard earned money already taxed by the city rather than give it to incompetent heads in Evanston to install more dysfunctional parking meters, bail failing businesses out, etc. 

        1. Meter beaters

          and……isn’t it somebody’s job to check the meters to see which may be broken?  Is anyone checking the people double-parking for free, or going in handicapped spots?  VERY frustrating….   and, I agree with your attitude……

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