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Phoenix's Parking Meter Plan: Extend Hours, Raise and Lower Rates

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The City of Phoenix wants to squeeze between $1 million and $2 million more per year out of parking meters, and the city's transportation department has some ideas.

The Street Transportation Department has issued an explainer on its ideas for changes to the parking meters, which includes proposals to make the meters active on nights and weekends, and to raise the price in some situations, and lower it in others.

See also:
-2010: Phoenix Parking-Ticket Fees Rise Dramatically

Explaining that, "Almost all major cities in the United States have evening and weekend metered parking," the city wants Phoenix to hop on that train. Currently, you can park at a meter for free after 5 p.m., at any time on the weekend, and on holidays.

The explanation on that:

Parking meters have worked effectively during weekday business hours, providing access for visitors and creating turnover for businesses. However, after 5 p.m. weekdays and on weekends, the most visible and convenient spaces are occupied by longer-term parking which slows user turnover to a crawl. Most business patrons who arrive during these periods either have to circulate within the area to find a less convenient on-street parking space or parking in off-street/parking garages. This may discourage patrons from traveling downtown to dine, attend shows and events in the evenings or on weekends. By extending parking meter hours, greater parking turn-over would be created along valuable on-street spaces to support increased downtown activity. The same space that now holds just one car will be able to serve three or more customers during these periods.

Then there are the proposed price changes, with dynamic pricing at meters near venues. Around the office buildings downtown, the city has no plans to change the rate from $1.50 an hour. Near venues, like U.S. Airways, for example, the price would range from $0.50 per hour to $6 per hour, depending on the existence of special events.

Here's the explanation on that:

The city is considering plans to implement demand-based pricing for special events to encourage parking turn-over in valuable on-street spaces next to venues. Due to the long-term parking use of these spaces after 5 p.m., recent studies show that only a fraction (15%) of the 500 on-street parking meters in the core downtown area are available for major event goers who are attending evening events (6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. starts). Since many of these on-street parking spaces are next to restaurants, retail, and other establishments, this lessens opportunities for these businesses to capture "pass-by" trade from event goers. By encouraging turnover in these parking spaces during special event periods, many more event-goers may frequent the adjacent businesses before and after the events.

The city's actually considering lowering rates on meters in "peripheral downtown areas," which aren't used as much, and allowing them to be used in 10- to 14-hour stretches.

The city hosted a couple of public-comment sessions on the proposed changes yesterday, but the city council won't be deciding on changes until its June 18 council meeting.

Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.

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Follow Matthew Hendley at @MatthewHendley.

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