Privatizing Chicago’s parking meters - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Privatizing Chicago’s parking meters

The Chicago City Council voted to lease 36,000 of Chicago’s parking meters to a private company for $1.16 billion. MPC believes revenues from this deal should be reinvested in road and transit improvements throughout the city.

Chicago’s 75-year $1.16 billion privatization of the city’s parking meters is, according to the Wall Street Journal, “The first private concession for a publicly owned U.S. parking system.”


The privatization of the parking meters means an increase in prices – the first increase in more than 20 years for 25,000 of Chicago’s meters. The least expensive parking meter will cost $1 per hour by 2009, and will increase to $2 per hour by 2013.  Downtown metered parking will eventually increase to $6.50 an hour. While the city’s parking meter rate increases may seem steep, what if those revenue increases led to more and better transit options and community improvements?


Increasing parking meter rates can help manage demand for Chicago’s limited parking spaces and curb excess traffic congestion – which costs every Chicago resident more than $3,000 a year, according to a recent MPC report, Moving at the Speed of Congestion. For instance, parking meter revenue could be used to support development of the CTA’s Bus Rapid Transit network, which will provide express transit access for Chicagoans as a convenient alternative to higher parking costs. For those who still choose to drive, market-priced parking will ensure spots are available and reduce “circling” and double-parking, both of which choke access to local shops. Re-investing parking meter revenue in local sidewalk, road and transit improvements will allow equal access for pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and drivers.


Chicago has the opportunity to position its neighborhoods for future growth and prosperity, provided new parking revenues are wisely invested. MPC looks forward to working with Chicago leaders to do just that.


  1. 1. Noreen from Park Ridge, IL on December 26, 2008

    Please stop privatizing our city out from its citizens. Doesn't our political mind machine have the power and education to well manage our city. Further I agree with Caroline Swinney about parking issues that are not the same from the community parking to dowtown parking issues. Everyone knows that the small communities are not the same as the congestion of downtown.

  2. 2. Caroline Swinney from Chicago, IL on December 18, 2008

    I am totally opposed to privatizing the meters for the following reasons:

    1. Downtown parking issues are not the same as community parking concerns. While it is appropriate to charge market rate fees downtown, doing the same in the neighborhoods penalizes residents who have lost street parking because of poorly planned development.

    2. Neighborhood businesses are not served by charging market rate.

    3. The length of the contract is too long and unfairly burdens future generations who may develop creative parking solutions.

    4. Future development must incorporate parking in project designs prior to zoning approval.

    5. It''s not clear who is ultimately responsible for serving the meters, issue ticket violations and enforce punishment against deadbeats.

    6. There is no trial period to measure unintended consequences, especially in the neighborhoods.

  3. 3. Jason Tinkey from Chicago, IL on December 18, 2008

    I am all for the rate increase, when I moved to Chicago several years ago I was shocked at how cheap meters were. Cities on the west coast anywhere from four to eight times what Chicago does. HOWEVER, privatization is a terrible idea. The city should raise the rates but keep the revenue (as well as the revenue from any other increases in the next 75 years) for itself.

  4. 4. Sonia from vzzLaGNN on November 3, 2012

    He does a Mexican awe-some!If you go back and listen to the part where the iveerniewtr asks if he likes the venue.Fred tells some story that makes no sense what so ever, and how being lost in translations can make or break a story and the understanding of another persons story. It starts at 0.22 sec into this.

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