Frozen Meter Facts And Fiction

LAZ Parking says 2% of pay boxes froze, spot checks say 60%

By Steve Rhodes
|  Friday, Dec 11, 2009  |  Updated 1:51 PM CDT
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Chicago's Snow in Photos

A city worker tries to de-ice a parking meter.

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Parking Geek Does Frozen Pay Box Test

The Parking Geek joins The Talk and Marion Brooks after he put the city's icy pay boxes to the test.

Cold Freezes Parking Meters

City says parking system still working at 98% efficiency.
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To some extent, Mayor Daley is right: Things tend to freeze in the winter around here. Not just the new pay boxes installed by a befuddled private concern making a mint off our meters.

"There's frozen parking meters, frozen water hydrants, frozen doors, frozen cars. They're all out there," Daley said on Thursday.

The old meters froze too, the mayor claimed.

But is this really just routine winter fare?

Officials from LAZ, our new parking meter overlords, claim that the number of pay boxes not working during the cold snap is just slightly more than usual.

"People have the mistaken impression that there's some kind of systemwide failure," meter spokeswoman Avis LaVelle told the Chicago Tribune. "It's not accurate."

Some news reports have put the figure of freeze-related failures at 2 percent.

But The Parking Ticket Geek did his own street survey and found the freeze-related failure rate at 60 percent.

"The truth is, the problem was much larger and systematic in scope than the laughable 2% claimed by LAZ Parking and the city," the Geek writes at The Expired Meter.

And:

"Other claims by the Mayor, Dept. of Revenue and LAZ that mechanical breakdowns of this size and scope happened all the time in the past is just pure science fiction. Traditional, single-head meters would never fail as dramatically as the new pay boxes have."

So the meter madness continues.

Get used to it. The contract with LAZ still has 74 years more years to run.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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