Evanston’s new parking meters, installed about three years ago, are failing at such a rate that city officials want to rip them out on a block of Sherman Avenue downtown.

Alderman Monday will get a proposal from city staff to replace 59 meters in the 1700 block of Sherman with five multi-space pay boxes.

Fleet and Parking Division Manager Rickey Voss says the new meters are already showing their age.

The meter batteries, Voss says, “do not last very long and often have to be changed out on a daily basis.” The meters, he adds, use an expensive, proprietary battery, and the meters take a lot of staff time to maintain.

Voss says that citywide there were 2,430 call to 311 for broken meters ove the past 12 months. And when repairs can’t be made by city staff, the meters have to be returned to the vendor. In the last four months vendor repairs have cost the city $7,500, Voss says.

By contrast, he says, the new multi-space pay stations have performed reliabily and save the city on credit card transaction fees.

Voss also says many drivers are now using a parking app on their cell phones. The city is working to add a “wallet” feature on the app that would let drivers pre-load funds onto the app.

That would reduce credit car fees for the city so much that Voss says city staff is considering offering bonus amounts — say, $1 extra for every $20 loaded onto the app.

Last year the city removed 46 meters that didn’t see much use, converting some parking spots to free or permit parking. But the new proposal will affect one of the most-heavily parked blocks in town, where meters saw 65,000 transactions in the past four months and generated more than $51,000 in revenue.

Related stories

City plans to remove some parking meters (8/26/16)

Brainstorming new parking control ideas (3/28/14)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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