Here’s a Quarter For My Two Cents on Parking Meters

I’m sure this has been beaten to death by now, but spending time in and around the downtown Chicago area is new to me.

Illinois will be charging more on their toll-roads soon. As opposed to a tax on purchased items, we’re still left with options. I don’t need to take the Tollways to get around Chicago. Save for the I90 corridor from O’Hare to Wisconsin, there are alternate routes that can get you where you’re going without taking too much extra time.

For much the same reason, I don’t mind parking meters. I normally prefer to pay a quarter or two to park nearer to my destination, rather than circling endlessly for a free space, then walking the extra blocks from, and back to, my car. But these Chicago parking meters are the stupid.

The meters our founding fathers intended us to use allow me to drop in a coin or two to add time to my meter. Not here. You can buy more time, but you can’t “add” time. Allow me to use yesterday’s haircut as an example.

I paid for 48 minutes of parking time to go to the barbershop. After 30 minutes of waiting my turn,  I knew the meter would run out before my hair was short. So, I needed to add time. Not being totally acclimated to Chicago meters yet, I went outside and dropped two quarters into the slot. Then immediately realized I had screwed up. That 50 cents gave me 24 minutes of parking time, but not additional parking time. Instead, I re-paid for the 18 minutes that remained on the meter. What I got, then, were only 6 additional minutes. Your time paid can only go from the point of your actual purchase. As I said, you cannot add time. You may only purchase more time. Unless I’m watching the clock and willing to get up from the barber chair in the middle of a flat-topping, I’m pretty much screwed. Which, I’m sure, was the intention of those responsible for installing said meters.

I’m not here to rail against the city’s sale of the control of parking meters. That’s politics, and I don’t do politics.

It’s a ripoff. In my mind, an intentional ripoff. It’s also making me rethink whether I want to walk a little further rather than put more money into someone’s (Morgan Stanley’s?) pockets. I need the exercise anyway. Still, seems a low blow to residents who just need a place to park their cars.


8 thoughts on “Here’s a Quarter For My Two Cents on Parking Meters

  1. “I’m not here to rail against the city’s sale of the control of parking meters. That’s politics, and I don’t do politics. It’s a ripoff. In my mind, an intentional ripoff.”

    Sorry, Cuz…but like it or not, you just did politics. Milking the citizens to the advantage of the government IS politics. And you complaining about it is you doing politics.


  2. I have to ask….. Are these parking meters in areas marked for a designated amount of time parking(ie, two hour limit) if it is, I think I like the idea Chicago is going with. As a resident of a large city(Boston) I do on occasion drive into the city (whoever thunk it would be cheaper to drive then take the subway in town? That’s a story for another blog, anyway) and it ticks me off to drive endlessly around looking for metered spots and they’re all marked two hour limit and people just keep coming in and popping in quarters all day long. Workers in the city take the metered spots meant for the quick visit to the city not the 8-10 hour day employees!! ARGH!!!

    • I feel your pain Kim, but these meters wouldn’t alleviate that problem. You can still feed our meters throughout the day; you just have to try to time them correctly so you’re not paying twice for the overlapping minutes.

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