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Chicago Has North America's Most Expensive Parking Meters

By Samantha Abernethy in News on Dec 26, 2012 7:30PM

For the fifth year in a row, the private managers of Chicago's parking meters are gouging us with another rate hike, and we've retained the title of the most expensive parking meters in the U.S. As if that isn't bad enough, the 2013 price surpasses that of Vancouver's, making Chicago's the most expensive parking meters in North America.

"On-street metered parking rates will increase in 2013 to $2.00 per hour for 82% of the city, $4.00 per hour near downtown and $6.50 per hour in the downtown area," a spokesperson for Chicago Parking Meters, LLC told Chicagoist. The transition will start downtown and move outward with all meter prices rising by the end of February.

According to the Expired Meter's Parking Geek and SFPark, the 75-cent bump to $6.50/hr for downtown parking keeps us a dollar above second place — San Francisco ($5.50/hr), followed by New York ($5/hr), Los Angeles ($5/hr), and Seattle ($4/hr). Furthermore, Chicago will overtake Vancouver, B.C., ($6/hr) to have the most expensive parking meters in North America.

The cost of Chicago's parking meters goes even further above and beyond those cities, though. Those cities actually reap the benefits of rate hikes, while our dough doesn't go to Chicago's coffers. Steep meter increases were part of that deal, too. One of the poison pills in the parking meter lease was a series rate hikes during the deal's first five years. Just because we're five years into the lease doesn't mean they can't keep on pushing rates higher, though.

It's hard to believe that just four years ago, most of Chicago's parking meters cost just $0.25. In fact, the Parking Geek tells that parking in Humboldt Park, South Shore and Albany Park costs as much or more than parking in Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas and San Jose, the nation's fourth through 10th most populated cities.