New parking meter rates in effect for Indianapolis
With the new year comes new parking rates in Indianapolis. It will now cost you more to park downtown.
Time is suddenly more money. It now costs 50 cents more an hour to park in the most congested parts of the city and an additional 25 cents elsewhere.
"I live about a mile away. I do come down here a lot. It makes a big difference over time," said Marina Kukla, driver.
This year's higher parking fees are the result of an agreement, a deal the city made last year to lease the entire street parking operation to a private company, ACS.
Although Mayor Greg Ballard initially acknowledged, "No one wants it to cost more," over time, the mayor insists the deal makes sense and money. The city received $20 million up front and anticipates millions more in annual parking revenue to pay for streets, bridges and other projects.
"We just take the money and it is more money than if we had done it by ourselves. That's pretty special and it's more money for the city than we otherwise would have had," said the mayor.
The current deal was actually a product of re-negotiation after the City-County Council raised concerns about the 50-year lease. The city has an opt-out clause and will now get a larger share of future revenue.
Motorists are getting more than time for their additional money. New meters can be paid with quarters, a cell phone or a charge card.
Although the technology can be finicky, the new meters make sense for driver Betty Danner.
"I don't have to have change. I can just put it on my charge card," she said.
To make its money, ACS is making sure motorists pay for their time or pay a fine.
Higher rates and tougher enforcement some business fear will hurt sales. In the shops along Massachusetts Avenue, shop owners are noticing.
"People don't look as long. They want to rush to get out. They are running back and forth to check their meter," said Ashley Martz, business owner.
Because when time is money, losing track of one may cost you more of the other.
Another parking convenience is on the way. Later this year the city will unveil a new "parking app" for smart phones to help drivers find empty spaces.