Cold Freezes Meters, Daley Not Concerned

Daley says freezing problems aren't specific to new meters and pay boxes

By Andrew Greiner and Courtney Copenhagen
|  Thursday, Dec 10, 2009  |  Updated 6:07 PM CDT
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Several of Chicago’s much-maligned privatized parking meters froze Thursday morning, but Mayor Daley brushed off complaints, saying the problems aren't specific to the new meters and boxes.

"No, no, they've always frozen," Daley said to the Chicago Tribune.

Be that as it may, several motorists were unable to operate the devices this morning, leading them to worry about being ticketed even though the equipment was malfunctioning.

Complaints also flowed into several local blogs, including The Expired Meter.

"I'm getting a lot of tips late last night and this morning about frozen up meters and boxes," said Mike, site's blog's proprietor.

The company that manages the parking meters acknowledged there has been an uptick in meter problems due to the cold, but that the system is operating near peak efficiency.

"These are mechanical boxes so some problems have been encountered," said Avis LaVelle, spokeswoman for LAZ Parking. "Overall though we're at a 98% operability level at any given time."

LAZ maintains 4,200 parking boxes and 600 meters, and has 50 maintenance workers in the field at all times. LaVelle said workers respond to complaints within the hour, but says it's important for motorists to call the meter hotline if they experience a problem.

LAZ maintains a database of problem meters, LaVelle says. In the event that a motorist is erroneously ticketed due to a malfunctioning box, the motorist can cite the complaint number, which will be cross-referenced by authorities.

The number to dial is 877-242-7901.

"It seems to me that people are calling the media when there's a problem and not calling the number on the box," LaVelle said, adding "I think it's overblown to suggest that this is some system wide malfunction."

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