New Parking Meters Result In More Revenue, Fewer Citations
By Addison Speck, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - It's been nearly a year since the parking meter makeover in downtown Cedar Rapids. In October of 2011, Park Cedar Rapids implemented new parking meters dubbed "Luke". The meters allow people to use change, debit/credit cards, and even smart phones to pay for parking.
So far, the meters have resulted in less citations but more revenue. Jon Rouse, the General Manager of Park Cedar Rapids, told TV9 on Wednesday that while they still get a few complaints, overall the system is working well. "We do see some longer meter rates in downtown and a lot of people just don't carry 4, 5, and 6 dollars worth of change anymore," said Rouse.
Many users agree. In a world full of plastic, offering multiple ways to pay is a plus. "I think it's a plus that you can use the debit card. They're not very user-friendly at times, but once you get the hang of it and know what you're doing they're not too bad," said Melanie Wilson, who works downtown. "I like it. I pay with my debit card and it works really well. I don't have to worry about carrying change," added Jaime Robinson, of Iowa City. Robinson comes and parks in downtown Cedar Rapids every Wednesday.
Wilson and a few others admitted that the new system means they can actually pay for their entire time on the street and not just park and cross their fingers. "Sometimes you didn't have enough change so you would hope the meter maid didn't get you," said Wilson. As a result of the new payment options, Rouse said Park Cedar Rapids has seen a 13 percent increase in revenue and issued fewer parking citations.
"Almost 65 percent of our users are now using credit cards as opposed to when we first started, it was about 40 percent," said Rouse. He said they want to raise that to 80 percent to help cut down on their costs.
Rouse said Park Cedar Rapids continues to inform people about how to use Luke. He said the longer the meters have been on the street, the fewer complaints they've received. While some parkers said nearly the past year with Luke has made their life easier, others are still getting used to it. "Lots of times people that are not familiar with them struggle, or wait to ask someone for help," said Wilson.
Park Cedar Rapids has what they call "ambassadors" out on the streets to help people if they are confused or have questions on how to use Luke. They ask if the people encounter problems or want more information to contact them.
What's On KCRG