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Dubai: The number of pre-paid parking cards available for sale have been reduced and many motorists have been forced to use Nol cards or coins to buy parking tickets from parking meters.
Pre-paid parking cards are the cheapest option to pay for parking vehicles in paid parking zones compared to using coins, Nol cards or the mParking service, which costs the most.
The pre-paid cards are typically used by motorists to pay for parking for short periods and were available in denominations of Dh30, Dh50 and Dh100.
Motorists were able to save money by using these cards because a card with Dh100 parking credit is available for purchase for Dh85. Cards with Dh50 credit are sold for Dh43 and a card with Dh30 credit can be bought for Dh26.
"I am just wondering why these cards are not available in the market any more," said Chris, who always prefers to use the cards instead of carrying coins.
"It was the cheapest mode to pay for parking using these cards," he noted.
He said that he was forced to buy a Nol card as he was unable to find the pre-paid card for sale any longer.
It costs a motorist Dh2 per hour to pay for parking using the Nol card while those who opt to use the mParking service pay Dh2.30 per hour. An official at the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) said that the cards are still available at some places but he could not say where.
"We reduced the supply of these cards because the demand has been quite low," he said.
However, another official said the pre-paid cards would gradually be replaced with Nol cards to pay at the parking meters. Currently, Nol cards are used by commuters on public transport in Dubai.
"Why should I buy a Nol card when I don't use public transport and commute in my car only?" said Lahiba, an Indian manager. She said that RTA should keep all the options open especially the cheaper ones.
Apart from Nol Cards, coins, and mParking, motorists can also use long term parking cards to park their vehicles in the paid parking zones. The long- term seasonal parking cards are available in two different categories.
Motorists must fix these cards to the windscreen of their cars. They can be used to park cars round-the-clock without purchasing tickets from parking meters. Cards in Category A can be used to park cars all over Dubai including zones A and B and cost Dh700 for three months.
In the Zone: Ticket renewal
Renewal of parking tickets is limited to four hours using the mParking service in Zone A of paid parking but motorists can renew mParking for up to ten hours in Zone B parking, a senior official clarified.
Gulf News reported yesterday that many motorists were upset over not being able to renew their parking tickets for more than four hours using the mParking service and demanded the Roads and Transport Authority improve the service. However, the RTA official said that the limited renewal hours policy was followed to give other motorists a chance to park but he could not explain why motorists are able to park for days at the same parking space using the coins at the parking meters or long- term seasonal cards.
South Carolina local governments are preparing to install 80 electric car charging stations in public spaces to coincide with the release of the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf, the first of many electric cars scheduled to hit the market in 2011.
Plug-In Carolina, a nonprofit founded four years ago in Charleston by Jim Poch, is coordinating the effort with the help of two grants from the S.C. Energy Office totaling $480,000 and with support from utility companies, including SCE&G in the Midlands, Santee Cooper in the Lowcountry and Duke Energy in the Upstate.
Local governments in Columbia, Greenville, Charleston, Conway, Myrtle Beach, Spartanburg, Rock Hill and Union each plan to install the charging stations. Columbia will have 10 stations - two each in the parking garages on Washington, Park, Taylor and Lincoln streets and the Arsenal Hill garage on Lincoln Street.
The charging stations will make the cars usable around town and across the state: If you drive to Greenville and hope to come back to Columbia, you might need to charge your car in Greenville.
"With these publicly accessible stations, we hope people will get over any concerns they might have that they will be stranded on the side of the road or in their parking spot because they were unable to recharge to get back home," said Erika Myers, manager for renewable energy programs with the S.C. Energy Office.
The first 40 charging stations will go online Dec. 8, marked by an event at the State House with state and local government officials. The remaining charging stations should be operating by January, Poch said.
"We believe we need to be ready before people start buying these vehicles so there's a comfort level for people who work in the downtown area or people who come to visit," said John Spade, Columbia's parking services director.
The electricity in Columbia, and most cities, will be free for now. That's because the cost of parking in city garages more than covers the cost of charging the car, given the current price of electricity. The state Energy Office estimates charging an electric car in South Carolina is the equivalent of paying between 25 cents and 50 cents per gallon for gasoline.
The grant money came from the 2009 federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, commonly referred to as the stimulus bill.
The first grant came through the federal Department of Energy's Clean Cities program. South Carolina received $4 million, of which $240,000 went to Plug In Carolina. The other $240,000 was a state energy program grant, which also came from stimulus funding.
Most local governments are putting the chargers in parking garages. In Greenville, four charging stations will be installed at the Poinsett parking garage on McBee Avenue, and two stations each will be installed in the Spring Street and Richardson Street parking garages.
Rock Hill will install a charging station in the city's lone parking garage and one in Cherry Park, a 68-acre softball/baseball complex. Santee Cooper, the state-owned utility, will install charging stations at Coastal Carolina University, Horry-Georgetown Technical College and in Conway. Union will install one in the parking lot of its City Hall.
But Poch said the primary charging place for electric car owners should be their driveways.
"To really maximize the environmental and economic benefits, you will want to charge at night when our nation has an abundant amount of off-peak electricity," Poch said. "I really see (public charging stations) as a compliment to what people use at home."
Local travelers using Denver International Airport will get a new parking option on Wednesday with the opening of Canopy Airport Parking, a 4,200-space "green" private parking facility.
The $18.5 million parking facility has solar panels to generate power for electric-vehicle "juicebars" (recharging stations), wind turbines on site, locally produced geothermal energy for heating and cooling, and high-efficiency LED lights.
The aim is to be to be the "greenest" parking facility in the world, said John Schmid, chief executive officer with Propark America, which helped build it.
The car park will offer an indoor valet parking service for $18 a day, a covered self-park option for $14 a day and open-air parking for $9 a day, Schmid said.
Canopy has hired 100 employees, he said, after about 1,500 people attended a job fair sponsored by the company.
Propark chief development officer Tom Bechard said the new parking operation will maintain competitive prices with other private lots, and DIA itself, while offering extra amenities for travelers.
DIA's parking garages also charge $18 a day; DIA's valet parking service charges $27 a day.
The Denver airport operates more than 40,000 parking spaces on its property, but Schmid contends there's a market for Canopy's service. "We're going to treat you like a hotel guest," he said.
The valet service allows travelers to drop off and pick up their vehicles in the company's climate-controlled indoor facility, Bechard said.
Call or text when you land, and Canopy's employees will have the vehicle ready and waiting for you in an indoor spot after you arrive at the lot on the company shuttle bus, Schmid said. The lot is located at 8100 Tower Road, just north of Peña Boulevard.
The company has 500 spaces for its indoor valet service, another 1,000 in the covered self-park area and 2,700 open-air self-park spaces. Canopy's operation is across Tower Road from USAirport Parking, another private, off-airport lot. USAirport charges $9 a day for open parking and $14 a day for covered spaces, which are under carport-style shelters.
Bechard said the traveling public sometimes has the perception that off-airport parking is far away. To that, he added, "We're like Mom; we drop you off at the terminal."
Parking is becoming "a concern" at the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport, and officials are planning to construct a parking deck.
Mike Landguth, Airport president, told the Chattanooga Engineers Club on Monday that space is limited to extend current ground parking.
He said airport parking lots were almost full last week.
Mr. Landguth said requests for proposals have gone out for a consulting firm to determine where the parking deck should be built.
He said the consultants will also be asked to recommend possible changes to the security check-in area. He said space is currently limited and a second check-in needs to be added to help move passengers through.
Mr. Landguth said one possibility is moving the security check-in down to the ground floor.
He said the consultants will also be asked to examine space issues at the area designated for rental cars.
And they will also study whether traffic flow should be changed at the airport.
Mr. Landguth said plans are also in the works to make the entrance to the airport more inviting.
He said the airport is now served by four airlines with routes to eight cities.
Mr. Landguth said many smaller airports have been "dehubbed" and even more flights routed to Atlanta. There are 11 daily Chattanooga flights to Atlanta by Delta.
Delta also serves Detroit.
American has two flights a day to Chicago and one to Dallas.
U.S. Airways serves Charlotte with six flights and also travels to Washington, D.C.
Mr. Landguth said Allegiant is a discount carrier that has made money for the past 10 years - when other airlines were losing. He said it caters mainly to the leisure traveler headed to Florida.
Even as SEPTA looks to a future of electronic fares, it is returning to its past of coin-operated parking.
The transit agency is ending the use of magnetic-stripe cards for its Regional Rail parking lots, because of continuing problems with the cards.
SEPTA chief financial officer Richard Burnfield said the cards, which have been used at six parking lots, had a tendency to become demagnetized when they came in contact with a cell phone or other electronic device. That would wipe out the value stored on the card.
"It kind of stinks. The cards did have problems, but when they worked, it was great," said Dan Cipolla, 25, of Jenkintown, who parks at the Jenkintown station. "Otherwise, I'm hunting for coins in the morning when I'm trying to get out the door. It was much more convenient with the card."
With the magnetic-stripe card, a commuter could buy a card from a ticket agent with $20 worth of parking credits and use the card at a machine in the lot or on the train platform. The machines also accept coins, but not dollar bills.
The cards were in use at Jenkintown, Fort Washington, Ambler, Warminster, and 69th Street parking lots, and, until recently, at Fern Rock.
Burnfield said SEPTA was selling out its supply of the cards and ending their use by Nov. 30.
Customers will have to rely on old-fashioned coins. Eventually, SEPTA hopes to include a parking-lot payment feature in a future electronic-fare system.
"I wish they'd just fix the problem, instead of taking them away," said Cipolla.
SEPTA temporarily stopped the use of the parking cards about a year ago, when similar card failures occurred.
A representative for a commuters' organization said SEPTA's abandonment of the parking cards might be a symptom of a bigger problem with the agency.
Matthew Mitchell, of the Delaware Valley Association of Rail Passengers, noted that SEPTA also abandoned vending machines for passenger tickets in 2007, citing their inability to accept newly designed U.S. currency.
"This is not a new phenomenon. It reminds me of the difficulty SEPTA had with maintaining its ticket vending machines while NJ Transit and other systems managed to keep theirs working reliably," Mitchell said.
"It's also worrisome to see that SEPTA is having problems with a system that is quite simple," compared with proposals for an electronic fare system, Mitchell said. "For SEPTA, this ought to be a rehearsal for the big project."
SEPTA hopes to award a contract by early next year for a long-postponed high-tech fare system to replace its current tokens, tickets, and passes for buses, subways, and commuter trains.
"Either there are real problems with SEPTA's maintenance performance or a lack of will on the part of management to make these things work."
Customers with leftover parking cards may return them to SEPTA for a refund: Customer Service, 1234 Market St., Fourth Floor, Philadelphia 19107.
Bloomberg Drops Bomb: Parking
Meter Rates Going Up
CBS2 New York
November 22, 2010
View the Video News Story
There was a new parking decree Monday from Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Drivers will no longer be "nickeled and dimed" to death when they park on city streets.
Instead, they'll need dollars.
As CBS 2's Marcia Kramer reports, metered parking is going up - again - as the mayor searches for more money to close his budget gap.
Bloomberg may be laying off city employees to close his budget gap, but there's one job that seems secure - parking meter rate adjuster. The city just finished raising the cost of metered parking six months ago and now it's going to do it again - just in time for New Years.
For the mayor, it's the sound of music … music to his ears. It's so good he's doing it twice, raising parking meter rates for the second time in a year at more than 85,000 parking spots in all five boroughs.
But it's definitely not music to the ears of drivers.
"I think the mayor should pay for it himself," Upper West Side resident Jack Florin told Kramer. "Dip into his pocket instead of running for president in 2012, spending $150 million of his own money; I think he should put it to the city."
"I may have to leave my job. It's very painful. This city is very tough to survive in as it is and if you make it a lot tougher people will be leaving the city," added Gene Beccali of Rockville Centre.
"He doesn't want cars in New York City. It's that simple," said Jim Kober from Melville on Long Island, adding when asked how the mayor wants your money, "Oh sure, there never seems to be enough money in this city."
In January parking rates will rise from 75 cents to $1 an hour in residential areas and from $2.50 to $3 an hour in commercial areas.
It was only six months ago that hourly rates went from 50 cents to 75 cents on residential streets and from $2 to $2.50 in commercial zones.
Officials said the city needs the money. The new hike will generate an extra $24 million and, they said, it's still cheaper than a garage.
"The parking rate in Manhattan was very low. Historically the off streets are still far higher than the on street rates," said Department of Transportation Deputy Commissioner Bruce Schaller. "I think people understand that the parking has been underpriced in Manhattan and understand the rationale behind the higher rates."
At least one man Kramer spoke to does.
"I look at it this way: It's a lot more cheaper than going into a parking lot. A parking lot can run you about $12 to $15 the first half hour," said Dr. Henry Fishman of the Upper West Side.
The city also plans to expand a program called "Park Smart," where parking rates in commercial areas are raised dramatically during peak hours to encourage turnover. Right now hourly rate in those areas is $3.75.
Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh said the township plans to move full speed ahead to build more than 500 new parking spots at the Princeton Junction Train Station, independent of NJ Transit's plans to privatize parking at 81 of its agencies - Princeton Junction included.
Earlier in the year, the township has been discussing, with NJ Transit officials, plans for a new 2,200-space parking garage on the NJ Transit-owned property on Alexander Road. However, Mayor Hsueh said NJ Transit will likely be tied up in the process of hiring management contractors, and the township has a pressing need for additional parking - marked by crowded lots and long waiting lists for parking permits.
He said the township cannot wait until NJ Transit completes its management privatization and resumes talks of structured parking facilities state-wide. And so, he said, the township should begin expediting the process of building 500 parking spaces at the former township compost site at Alexander Road, with parking priority given to West Windsor residents.
"We have to take care of our commuters first," he said. "The New Jersey Transit has changed its management philosophy and we can't wait until they work it out - we can't afford to keep waiting. Even if consultants are hired soon, we wouldn't see much action in the next year."
In early October, NJ Transit issued a Request for Qualifications, or RFQ, which invited private companies to bid on long-term "concession" agreements to operate NJ Transit's parking lots, which are currently controlled by a combination of municipal, private and NJ Transit operators. For a period between 30 and 50 years, private companies would have exclusive rights to collect parking revenue, as part of NJ Transit's new program called the System Parking Amenity and Capacity Enhancement Strategy, or SPACES.
The 81 stations range from large facilities along the Northeast Corridor - including the Hamilton and Trenton stations - bus and light-rail stations, and 14 stations that currently offer free parking. More than 60 percent of NJ Transit's agencies could become privatized.
According to prepared statements by NJ Transit Executive Director James Weinstein, parking privatization is expected to help NJ Transit out of its "budget hole" and bring in at least $100 million in 2011. As of Nov. 12, NJ Transit received bids from 10 companies and will begin reviewing them over the next few months, according to its website.
NJ Transit owns and operates more than 70 percent of the total spaces at Princeton Junction, about 2,625 of 3,635 spaces. The remainder belongs to the West Windsor Parking Authority, primarily at the Wallace Road and Vaughn Drive lots, according to Andy Lupo, chairman of the West Windsor Parking Authority. He said the parking authority-owned spots will not be affected by privatization on NJ Transit-owned property; however, the parking authority may see a rise in expenses that may affect commuter costs. He said the parking authority currently pays about 28 percent to cover service expenses, such as snow plowing, to jointly owned areas of the station. But since the parking authority and NJ Transit set their own parking prices independently, the impact that private companies will have to the station's cost of operations remains to be seen.
"We're still analyzing what it might cost in terms of security enforcement, insurance and whatnot," Mr. Lupo said. "The NJ Transit is in this for monetary gain. We're going to work to keep our rates low and keep giving the customers all the service benefits." The Princeton Junction train station averages about 7,205 weekday boardings, the sixth highest boarding level of its stations, according to a NJ Transit 2009 fiscal year report.
Pocono Medical Center is proposing a new, elevated parking deck for hospital employees to be located next to the Pocono Lutheran Village retirement home.
The site is already the location of an employee parking lot, but the deck would nearly double the number of spaces from 243 to 420, said John Blick, East Stroudsburg code officer.
The employee lot is about a half mile from the hospital on East Brown Street and would continue to be serviced by a shuttle.
The proposed project also includes constructing a 3,000-square-foot utility building behind the hospital that would be used to store heating ventilation and air conditioning equipment, Blick said.
Hospital officials submitted an application for the project last month and on Thursday appeared before the East Stroudsburg Zoning Hearing Board.
The board did not take action Thursday, but will likely vote on whether to approve the project during its Dec. 16 meeting, Blick said.
If the project is approved, it would then go before the Borough Council.
Chapel Hill unveiled its newest program aimed at encouraging alternative methods of transportation at a Friday conference.
The "Feeling Great Fridays" program, which is set to begin in January, is the next step in an ongoing effort to discourage people from driving to work alone.
The town announced the program to representatives from local businesses at the annual Go Chapel Hill Transportation Management conference.
"What we're striving for with our new 'Feeling Great Fridays' program is that people will, on Fridays, make a concerted effort to bicycle or to walk or to use Chapel Hill Transit or Triangle Transit to get to and from work," said Len Cone, Chapel Hill transportation demand management coordinator.
Cone said Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt hopes to foster competition through the program.
"In January, the mayor is going to throw down the gauntlet and issue a challenge to the business community," she said. "We're really going to be seeing the spirit of Chapel Hill come out on this one."
Participants will log the miles they travel by alternative methods online for a chance to win prizes.
A Transportation Demand Management grant will fund the program along with support from the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce and the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, Cone said.
Special use permit applicants will have to develop and update a plan to encourage their employees to use alternative modes of transportation.
"It's marginally successful, but better than not doing anything," said David Walser, who represented the UNC Center for School Leadership Development.
"Chapel Hill said, 'Hey, we've got parking problems, and we don't want to have to expand our road system as the town grows, so when we build new buildings, we'll do what we can to get the building management to foster ride-sharing and alternative means of transportation.'"
In a recent transportation survey that was also discussed at the conference, many employees said they would prefer to stay home and work over the internet, rather than commute at all.
"We started counting telework in '09, and it's such a high percentage," said survey analyst Michael Ousdahl. "It's third after carpooling."
Beyond informing businesses of available services, the conference also tries to convince business to use them, Walser said.
"A lot of people don't really want to be here," he said. "The people that are putting it on are doing a really good job of trying to get us excited about this."
On the court docket, the dispute is listed as Michael D. Rivers vs. the Springfield Parking Authority.
But the real clash is between Rivers, a retired School Department audio visual supervisor, and a parking meter - meter 1112, to be exact.
So far, the parking meter is winning.
One year after finding a $25 ticket on his windshield, the Leyfred Terrace resident has filed three appeals, typed a half dozen letters and shelled out $300 in legal fees - and is no closer to proving that the ticket was due to a malfunctioning meter, not his failure to feed it.
Not that Rivers is discouraged.
"Everyone says pay the fine; you can't fight City Hall. But I think I should be able to," he said. "And I think (City Hall) should fight fair; they're acting like a bunch of lawyers."
By his account, the trouble began outside the Red Rose restaurant on Main Street in October, 2009 when Rivers pumped 50 cents into the meter, guaranteeing him and his Volkswagon Passat one hour of harassment-free parking; when he came back 45 minutes later, he found the ticket.
After a quick inspection, Rivers decided the meter was malfunctioning, and that a leaking battery was the probable cause. The telltale sign was the "gunk" clouding the meter's glass head, making it difficult to read; as an audio visual supervisor, Rivers said he was familiar with battery leakage and the havoc it causes in electronic devices.
To document his case, he took out his cellphone and snapped several unflattering pictures of the meter; a few months later, after challenging the ticket, Rivers went back and found the meter had been cleaned and was now gunk- free.
Further complicating the case was the fact that the meter was replaced as part of a Main Street revitalization.
His first appeal was to the Parking Authority, which is responsible for maintaining 620 meters across the city; the actual job is contracted out to Republic Parking System, a national firm with an office on Chestnut Street.
A half a dozen lawsuits have been filed over parking tickets since 2008, when the authority took over parking citywide, said executive director Harold G. "Hal" King. The lawsuits were brought by motorists cited for parking in handicapped or police zones, according to King, who noted that Rivers' suit is the only one involving a parking meter.
Once case was settled out of court, and the rest are pending, King said.
"Sometimes you get people who are determined to pursue something, and they'll stay with it as long as it takes," King said.
Rivers, whose mother was a legal secretary, insists there is nothing quixotic about his legal challenge; and no, he adds, he is not a chronic litigator.
Asked if he has filed a lawsuit before, he responded, "Never."
A week after presenting evidence to the Parking Authority's hearing officer, Rivers was notified by mail that his appeal was rejected.
Next, he filed a lawsuit in Superior Court, and prepared to argue his case at trial. Unfortunately, the case was dismissed by Judge Bertha D. Josephson last month after Rivers missed a pre-trial hearing. Insisting that he was never notified, Rivers filed another appeal to get the case reinstated.
"Why would I spend more than $300 to bring this case before the court and then not show up," Rivers said.
His latest appeal was rejected last week, leaving one last option.
"I guess I'll have to take this to the (Massachusetts) Supreme Judicial Court," he said.
Dominika Kowalczyk couldn't believe her eyes when she looked out her window Friday morning. As part of the transition to pay-and-display parking terminals downtown, the city had come along and chopped the tops off all the parking meters on Frank Street in Centretown, leaving at least a dozen bikes that were locked to the meters free for the taking.
"You can just lift off the bike because there's nothing keeping it there," an incredulous Kowalczyk said. "I can't believe they're just leaving bikes out for people to take."
When Kowalczyk called the city's 311 line, an agent referred her to the city official responsible for overseeing the transition to pay-and-display.
But she wasn't satisfied. Although she locks her bike to a fire escape at the rear of her building, Kowalczyk said many of her neighbours lock their bikes to the parking meters.
She said the city should have informed people of the impending move, the way it does during the winter when snowy roads are set to be cleared and street parking isn't allowed. "I'm amazed at how little planning has gone into this," she said. "They should have let people know, they should have attached something to the meters."
By late afternoon, the city issued an apology to cyclists and said crews had been dispatched to rectify the situation by installing special attachments at the top of posts to prevent locked bikes from being lifted off.
"It was a case of human error," said city spokeswoman Jocelyne Turner, adding someone removed the meter heads thinking someone else was going to come along soon after, but that didn't happen.
But, she added, the city hasn't received any complaints about missing bikes. "We've received no indication that anything's been stolen," she said. Turner added the city will remind its crew that parking-meter heads should not be removed under any circumstances if there is a bicycle attached.
The city announced earlier this year that it was planning to convert 550 on-street parking meters to bike racks. Each meter can accommodate two bikes. The plan is to remove the meter heads and replace them with finials and a heavy metal ring for cyclists to lock their bikes to. The rings cost about $100 each and the city will use existing staff to do the retrofits, resulting in a cost of $55,000 for about 1,000 bike parking spaces.
The new hitching posts will be spread out around the downtown core, including the ByWard Market, Chinatown on Somerset Street, LeBreton Flats near the war museum, Bank Street, Rideau Street and Booth Street near the federal government office buildings.
Bangalore's busy Avenue Road is facing business hiccups over the last two years as the area has been turned into a 'no parking' zone.
While shopkeepers say business is going down, officials of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) say they are planning to set up an elevated parking space for cars and two wheelers in the premises. Although the idea is in preliminary stages, it has already drawn criticism from the public and shopkeepers.
Suhas S, a bookseller, said, "The street used to be abuzz with activities. Those days, I had to hire more staff during season to deal with a flood of customers. Retailers used to make bulk orders from us as they could park their vehicles here. Now only a handful students visit our shop even during season.''
Some shopkeepers have shifted their age old businesses from the area in order to survive. Others may follow suit. The upcoming metro construction may take away a part of their space and even displace them.
"There were times when I used to get calls from retailers as early as 7am asking me to open the shop to make their purchases. Now I am forced to go to the doorstep of retailers and customers situated in different parts of the city to get orders," said Dinesh K, a cloth merchant.
"Letters have been sent to the corporation and traffic police many a time requesting for parking space at least on one side of the road. But there has been no reply," he added.
Reacting to the complaints, technical advisor to the BBMP commissioner, H Rajasimha said that parking was removed from the road to make way for free vehicular and pedestrian movement. Now a draft has been prepared for providing elevated parking in 40 prime congested locations of the city including Avenue Road, Commercial Street, MG Road and Brigade Road, he said.
The Bend City Council has decided to end a downtown parking validation program that cancels tickets if drivers can show they had been shopping and spent at least $10.
City officials say the incentive program has not been sustainable for the parking fund.
The Bulletin newspaper reports the program has cost the city an estimated $73,455 in unrealized revenue from overturning tickets as well as enforcement and administration expenses.
Officials also say there has been a significant amount of abuse in the program because downtown business owners and employees attempt to validate their own parking tickets.
The days of free street parking in parts of the Uptown area could soon be over.
A consultant's report has recommended installing parking meters on Greenleaf Avenue from Hadley Street to Penn Street, on Bailey Street and Philadelphia Street from Washington Avenue to Comstock Avenue, and on Wardman Street from Bright Avenue to Comstock.
Lisa Young, project manager for PBS and J Consulting of Orange, discussed the plan Thursday evening at a meeting with Uptown merchants.
"Meters are a good way to help manage (parking) efficiently," she told them.
The plan is scheduled to be reviewed by the Parking and Transportation Commission on Dec. 2 and by the City Council on Dec. 14.
It also includes proposals to build four new parking structures and replace the city's existing one, Young said.
How soon meters might come to Uptown remains uncertain, said Jeff Collier, assistant city manager.
"[PBS and J] says it's possible to do it in nine months, but will we move that quickly, I'm not sure," Collier said.
According to the consultant, meters would ease parking congestion. The problem isn't a lack of parking spaces, Young said, it's that parking spaces are not being used efficiently, with too few cars utilizing the existing spots, she added.
For example, her company did a 10-hour study and found that only 2.6 vehicles used each two-hour parking space during that time period. Ideally, the number should be five, she said.
Only 1.75 cars parked in three-hour parking spots during the 10-hour period, when the recommended number is 3.3 cars, Young said.
The company also found that 43 percent of cars violate the two- and three-hour time limits, she said.
"Parking meters and pricing is a way to control that," she said. "They will encourage high turnover."
Young suggested charging $1 per hour, with incremental increases after three hours.
Whittier Uptown Association President Sandra Hahn said she likes the plan.
"I think there is a vision there," Hahn said.
In addition to helping open up parking spaces, meters will provide an extra source of money for the Uptown area, she said.
"You can use it to keep the sidewalks clean, or do other maintenance," Hahn said.
The Anderson Township Board of Trustees recently approved a resolution that allows the township to keep tax dollars from site improvements in the community for the next 30 years.
The JFP Group broke ground for the multimillion dollar Anderson Towne Place cinema and parking garage in 2007 and first aimed for an opening the following year.
Design revisions - including scrapping planned condominiums, a restaurant and outdoor amphitheater - delayed the project and First Financial Bank filed for foreclosure of the mortgages the JFP Group held for the property in November 2009.
The 2.197-acre site, behind the Anderson Center and Anderson Towne Place shopping plaza, is currently valued at $16,200, according to the Hamilton County auditor's website.
Township Administrator Vicky Earhart said the cinema and parking garage parcel was part of the original tax increment financing fund (TIF) resolution from 1994, but was removed from those properties when the township purchased the site for the Anderson Center and Anderson Center Station Metro hub.
"We de-TIFed that because it was owned by the township and later, a portion was split off of the larger parcel for the JFP development," Earhart said. "TIF was never reapplied to that parcel."
Fiscal Officer Ken Dietz explained that TIF captures tax dollars from the added value, or improvements, to a particular site.
The money is primarily used for capital improvements such as roads, buildings or purchasing police cruisers and fire engines, he said.
Anderson Township has already paid the JFP Group $5.8 million for the parking garage construction and has a lease for parking spaces in the completed garage.
During the foreclosure proceedings, Magistrate Michael Bachman ordered First Financial Bank and Anderson Township to resolve issues regarding respective rights to the property prior to an issuance of an order for the foreclosure sale of the property.
Anderson Township and Anderson Investors LLC, developers of Anderson Towne Center, were named as defendants in the foreclosure case for interests in the parking garage and easement, respectively.
The city's metered parking spaces could become riskier to use without feeding the meters.
The Williamsport Parking Authority is considering a proposal by StreetSmart Technology, a Georgia-based company offering to install technology to increase meter revenue, to motivate more turnover of parking spaces and make it easier for the enforcement staff to do their job.
John Miskell, a StreetSmart account manager based in Wyomissing, gave a sales pitch to the authority and Mayor Gabriel J. Campana Wednesday afternoon.
No commitment was made and no final decision is likely until next year.
However, Miskell said his firm's technology would "pay for itself."
Authority Chairman Anthony Cipolla said StreetSmart's equipment would identify which meters are in use and which have expired.
According to Miskell, other options available include the ability to limit how many times the same meter can be fed without a vehicle being moved and automatic alerts to authority staff when meters are jammed or malfunction.
A potentially touchy issue for those who love finding a parking meter with time still on it is the ability - should the city choose - to wipe off any remaining time whenever a vehicle pulls away from a parking space.
Another potential benefit to downtown visitors with cell phones able to access the Internet is an option that would allow them to locate empty parking spaces, Cipolla added.
Sensors on poles and wires and small monitors embedded under asphalt would transmit data via the Internet to StreetSmart and the authority.
The city has about 2,000 parking spaces on 16 lots and the downtown streets.
There are about 200 metered spaces on lots and about 280 on the streets.
A hand-held device the size of a cell phone would be used by the enforcement employees to pinpoint which meters have expired.
Miskell predicted StreetSmart's services could "maximize revenue without increasing rates" and benefit retailers by increasing the turnover on the city's metered parking spaces.
He also predicted the net revenue to the authority from its parking meters could increase from about $193,000 annually to more than $460,000, minus a $100,800 monitoring fee.
He said StreetSmart is offering a "guaranteed, no-risk contract" and its services and equipment would cost the authority nothing if it failed to make more money.
"If you don't," he promised, "we don't get paid."
Cipolla said there are no plans for an immediate increase in parking meter rates or fines should the city decide to try out the company.
Also guaranteed to stay as a downtown parking feature is the grace period now in place between the time a meter expires and the gauge changes color from green to red.
"The seven-minute grace is going to stay," he promised.
The company has been asked to provide a written proposal and contract for the review of the authority solicitor.
City Administrator William Nichols confirmed that - like the proposed booting ordinance - the proposed enforcement changes would require council approval for all meters on city streets.
Campana said his administration temporarily is delaying the booting ordinance to allow the authority to "boot" vehicles with excess unpaid parking tickets while parked on city streets.
There were reports it might be on this coming Tuesday's council agenda, but he said it will go to city council - at the earliest- at the first meeting in December.
Just in time for Thanksgiving travelers, Memphis International Airport opened its second economy parking lot on Thursday, adding 1,035 $8-a-day spaces.
The new lot is east of the terminal parking deck in an area formerly occupied by cargo buildings and aircraft parking, most easily accessed from pickup and dropoff drives outbound from the terminal.
Built under a $1 million contract with Flintco Inc., the new lot replaces economy parking lost to construction of a ground transportation center that will combine garage parking and rental car lots.
The other economy lot, with 900 spaces, is off the pickup/dropoff drives inbound to the terminal building.
Both lots are credit card payment only.
County supervisors approved funding to repair O'Donnell Park after the deadly concrete collapse.
The collapse, which happened during Summerfest, took the life of 15 year old Jared Kellner. He was walking near the O'Donnell Park parking garage when a large concrete slab fell on top of him. The slab was hanging on the building as part of the decorative facade. The garage has remained closed since the incident.
In the 2011 Milwaukee County budget, supervisors opted to spend $6.5million to remove all of the other concrete panels on the structure's facade and put a coating on the building. The funding also covers other repairs to the parking garage's structure.
Some county supervisors hoped to offer the site as a development opportunity and to make the prime lakefront location something other than a parking garage. However, Supervisor Mark Borkowski said it was important to take action on the site rather than delay. "I think we need to finally make a decision and lets go with it," he said. "I'm not in support of the repairs. But that's what we voted on so let's do it."
Supervisor Theo Lipscomb wrote the resolution authorizing the funding and said, "we're not going to wait years for some proposal to drop from the sky and not address the needs of the facilities who are around the structure now who need that parking."
Supervisors say they want the repairs completed before the summer 2011 festival season.
To any Naperville resident who's ever been stuck looking for parking downtown, the city has one comment: They're working on it.
Thursday marks the first transportation and parking meeting for the Downtown Advisory Commission, which will be making a recommendation to the Naperville City Council on the city's 2010 Continuous Improvement Model Report for Downtown Parking.
But drivers downtown may be looking for a little more.
This year's recommendations for managing parking include "continue to market parking options," "complete the calibration of the parking guidance system" and "continue to monitor downtown parking management, supply and customer feedback."
"Promoting existing parking spaces will help users find parking more easily," said Project Manager Anastasia Urban. "The new guidance systems will also help visitors find available spaces in the Central Parking Facility and Van Buren Parking Deck."
But a significant number of new parking spaces - the one thing that always seems to improve customer satisfaction - won't be added until the Water Street development breaks ground.
"We do have a Capital Improvement Plan project called Downtown Decks," said Urban. "We know we'll need new decks after Water Street if development occurs."
Water Street would add an additional 575 or so parking spaces to the downtown, while taking up fewer than 350 for its own use. But the city's transportation, engineering and development department estimates the downtown will need between 800 and 1,000 new spaces over the next five years.
After Water Street, the city would begin scouting out new sites for an additional parking deck, but hasn't identified any sites yet.
Meanwhile, only 64 percent of drivers surveyed by the city this year said they were satisfied with the downtown's parking. That number decreased slightly from last year, when parking was newly plentiful after the completed addition to the Van Buren Parking Deck.
The customer satisfaction survey was included in the Continuous Improvement Model report, which has been the guide for parking downtown since 2001. As part of that report, city employees conduct annual surveys to gauge the occupancy of the downtown's 3,532 public and private parking spaces, driver satisfaction, and future parking requirements over the next five years.
This year's decline in customer satisfaction was attributed to the 196 spaces lost in the Central Parking Deck to renovation. Those spaces are back open, but the dip in customer satisfaction while they were closed highlights the basic underlying principle of downtown parking: the more easy-to-find empty spaces, the happier the drivers.
On average, just under 2,500 vehicles were parked and 72 percent of parking spaces downtown were full every hour between noon and 10 p.m. July 30 and 31, the days of this year's survey. It was most difficult to find a spot at 8 p.m. Friday, when parking spaces were 82 percent full.
Statistically speaking, if you did find a spot downtown it was in the Van Buren Parking Deck. While both downtown parking decks filled almost entirely at some point during the day, the Van Buren deck was, on average, only 78 percent full most of the day. Throughout the study, the Central Parking Facility was, on average, 95 percent full.
And you had a 49 percent chance of finding a parking space in less than two minutes.
Meanwhile, city staff members have suggested motorists take advantage of technology to find a spot. Parking guidance systems let drivers know how many spots are open at both the Central and Van Buren decks, and real-time parking data is available for both from the city's mobile-friendly website, www.naperille.il.us/downtownparking.aspx.
Shreveport City Council has recently received a report on the airport's parking debacle that happened this past summer.
The report found that the airport did follow proper procedures when it entered the contract with Nationwide parking, but it was not enforced properly.
But, the report found both Nationwide and Airport Director Roy Miller at fault for not following and enforcing the contract.
It also showed that the airport did not keep up with required paperwork.
Airport Director Roy Miller called the parking report fair and did not disagree with anything in it.
Miller says hindsight is 20/20 when it comes to the parking contractor getting behind on payments.
"We sent them late notices and made efforts to collect from the very beginning so it simply accumulated because of the amount of money each month, but, our accounting department was involved immediately with trying to recover any funds once they got behind," said Miller.
Miller added, attorneys are suing the people behind the company.
He also says they did not expect the company to file bankruptcy, which clouded the entire situation, most importantly getting reimbursed.
A new pension bailout proposal emerged Friday with three city council members announcing legislation that would create an "infusion of value" -- but not cash -- into a languishing fund rapidly headed for state takeover.
"This is just another plan that we're putting forward," council President Darlene Harris said. "Sooner or later, the mayor is going to like one."
Mrs. Harris, Patrick Dowd and Natalia Rudiak plan to introduce a bill Tuesday directing Mayor Luke Ravenstahl to renegotiate the terms of a 1995 revenue-sharing agreement with the city Parking Authority.
Under the current arrangement, the authority receives virtually all parking meter revenue. Under the bill to be introduced next week, all revenue from increases in meter rates -- scheduled to begin taking effect in March -- would be committed to the city pension fund through 2041.
At Mrs. Harris' suggestion in May, the city increased fines for various parking violations, including expired meters.
The city traditionally has used fine revenue for a variety of purposes, but under the bill to be introduced Tuesday, all revenue from fine increases would be dedicated to the pension fund through 2041. Council members in the spring talked about dedicating fine money to the pension fund; the new bill would formalize that arrangement.
Mr. Dowd, Mrs. Harris and Ms. Rudiak also plan to introduce legislation Tuesday that would direct city Controller Michael Lamb to determine the potential value of 30 years' worth of meter and fine increases to the pension fund.
There are already some hints as to what the additional revenue would be.
Council and Mr. Lamb previously released a report in which they said gradual increases in meter rates could generate as much as an extra $6.1 million next year and an extra $17 million or so annually by 2040. Also, the city's 2011 budget projects about $6.7 million in parking fine revenue next year, up from $5.6 million this year.
The Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, one of the city's financial oversight boards, meets at noon Monday to vote on the budget. Some officials said they expect ICA to reject the budget and accompanying five-year financial plan because of concerns about revenue assumptions.
The new legislation is the latest twist in the debate over how to use the city's parking assets to help a pension fund that's only 27.5 percent funded and headed for state takeover if it isn't at least 50 percent funded by Dec. 31.
Until now, council and Mr. Ravenstahl have focused on infusing a large amount of cash into the fund to avert a takeover. In the scenario unveiled Friday, the three council members hope that an "infusion of value," as Mr. Dowd called it, would be enough to avert a takeover.
Mr. Dowd said he and his colleagues would pledge a "regular stream of revenue, fixed by ordinance," to the pension fund, believing that would forestall a takeover.
At least two more bailout plans are in the works, Mrs. Harris said, declining to give details Friday. She and Ms. Rudiak said council wants to give Mr. Ravenstahl as many options as possible for averting a takeover.
Mr. Ravenstahl reacted to the council members' proposals with frustration.
"At the last minute, their attempt to throw anything against the wall just to see what sticks is not helpful, it's irresponsible," he said in a statement. "We are almost out of time."
Mr. Ravenstahl proposed leasing city and Parking Authority facilities -- in all about a dozen garages, 30 metered lots and 7,000 on-street meters -- to private investors for 50 years. He'd use at least $220 million of $452 million in lease proceeds to avoid a pension fund takeover.
Council rejected that plan, largely because of concerns that neighborhood business districts would be harmed by the meter rate increases Mr. Ravenstahl included in the plan to entice investors.
Council and Mr. Lamb advanced their own plan to sell the city's share of parking assets -- the Mellon Square garage, five lots and the 7,000 on-street meters -- to the Parking Authority for $220 million. The money would be used to avert a pension fund takeover.
Under that plan, the authority would have bought the city properties with a bond backed by parking rate increases that would have been more modest than those Mr. Ravenstahl proposed. However, council and Mr. Lamb said the rates still would have generated significant sums for the pension fund. After council passed the plan, the Parking Authority declined to study it, partly because it would involve new debt.
While the authority's position stalled the sale of city assets, Mr. Dowd, Mrs. Harris and Ms. Rudiak said other parts of the council-controller bailout, including parking rate increases, remain in force.
Hourly meter rates now range from 50 cents to $2, depending on the neighborhood. On March 31, when the first increases under the council-controller plan kick in, meter rates will range from 50 cents to $3. Rates in various neighborhoods will continue to increase in future years, although by 2015 the overall range will remain 50 cents to $3.
In a related matter, Councilman Bill Peduto sent a letter to the ICA and other state overseers Friday, recommending rejection of the mayor's budget and five-year plan. He said the $10 million surplus in the 2011 budget should be applied to the pension fund and also faulted Mr. Ravenstahl for including a $20 million contribution from nonprofits in the five-year plan.
Mr. Peduto has been working on soliciting $20 million in nonprofit contributions to help the pension fund but has announced no commitments. Mr. Peduto, council's finance chairman, said he never intended for the $20 million to be a "phantom revenue" in a general financial plan.
The city is preparing to wrap its holiday gift to residents and tourists. Next week, the city's Parking Committee will discuss implementing a three-week reprieve from parking fees in the downtown.
The suspension of parking meter enforcement around the Christmas holiday has been going on for at least 15 years, said Parking Committee Chairman Ken Smith.
Like last year, the city will look to expand the free parking period through New Year's Day in hopes of supporting downtown merchants, said Smith.
The committee must first vote on the measure, but the City Council has final approval.
"This is something we believe is a good gesture for visitors and for shoppers of the downtown," said Smith.
If approved, the free parking period would go from Dec. 13 to Jan. 2, 2011.
The loss in revenue per week is reported to be around $30,000, but Smith said the city budgets for the free parking period each year.
"In this down economy, we think expanding the period will give downtown shops the opportunity to have more shoppers and have more people around," said Smith.
Both Smith and city Parking Manager Jon Frederick cautioned that although the parking will be free, the time limits on parking spaces will be strictly enforced.
Smith asked that employees who work in the downtown not abuse the gift and park on the streets during the three-week period.
"We really want to have those spaces open for our visitors and shoppers," he said.
As always, other parking violations also will be ticketed, such as unauthorized parking in handicapped spaces or in loading zones.
Holiday shoppers and visitors wishing to spend time more time downtown than is allowed on the meters are encouraged to use the High-Hanover parking garage.
Next time you're feeling like a little love in the elevator, just remember what happens in Wilmington's parking deck doesn't necessarily stay in the parking deck.
The Market Street and Second Street parking decks have a total of 70 cameras that catch everything from vehicle break-ins to public urination.
And when reviewing footage after incidents, parking officials often catch a glimpse of people making out. "Heavy making out," Parking Manager Betty Gurganus added.
Faced with fewer people parking in the decks than the city would like, the city council is looking at ways to improve the decks and get the word out that they are safe.
Council members say public perception is that the decks are unsafe. They also hear concerns about foul smells and drunken shenanigans on the weekends.
In the past year, the city's parking department reported 43 incidents in Market Street Deck and 15 in the Second Street deck. The majority of the incidents are vehicle accidents, break-ins and the occasional drunken vagrant passed out in the bathroom, according to a report provided by the city's parking department.
Since 2007, Wilmington police have responded to 1,243 calls to the city's parking decks. Most of those calls, 98 percent, were to the Market Street deck, according to a spreadsheet provided by the police department.
Most of the calls were for breaking-and-entering alarms. Gurganus suggests motorists lock their doors and keep valuables out of sight.
Councilman Charlie Rivenbark said it's important for the city to overcome any perception that the decks are unsafe.
"We need for people to use these parking decks," he said.
The city built the Market Street deck in 2004 to accommodate parking needs downtown. Gurganus said the goal is to build up rather than having to tear down buildings to make way for parking lots.
The city offers discounts in the Market Street deck and lets people park for free on Saturdays and Sundays to get more people using it. Rivenbark said he believes the fear is more perceived than reality but that he can understand the concern.
"It would be easy for somebody to conceal himself," he said of a potential threat to women walking to their cars late at night.
Gurganus, however, said she feels safe walking to her car at night and that the fear is unwarranted.
"I think it's from watching too many movies," she said.
Eyes in the sky
Parking officials check the security tapes after the weekend and any time there is a power surge to be sure they're working but they are not monitored in real-time, Gurganus said.
Council members toyed with the idea of having staff watch the tapes consistently but that would mean paying for extra personnel. When the parking department gets a report of an incident they go back and review the tapes.
Police Chief Ralph Evangelous has told the council it would be ideal to have a fusion center where all the security cameras, like the ones downtown and in the parking decks and the video coming for the housing projects, could be viewed.
Rivenbark said whatever the city does - which could be adding signs to make people aware of the video cameras or installing a notification system to the cameras that lets staff know of movement in the decks - it will cost money.
"But I don't think that you can put a price on somebody's feeling of security," he said.