Beginning January 1, Chicago's parking meters will be the most expensive in North America.
It'll cost drivers $6.50 per hour to park in the Loop. Near downtown the rate will be $4 per hour. Other metered areas throughout the city will be $2 per hour.
In advance of a New Year's Day hangover, here's a sobering reminder: it was just four years ago that most of Chicago's parking meters cost just $.25 per hour.
Except for inside the Loop, payment is not required from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. unless otherwise posted. Prepayment is available starting at 5 a.m. on many meters.
The transition to the new rates will start in the downtown area and move outward into the neighborhoods. Crews expect to have all of the meters transitioned by the end of February. Motorists are only responsible for paying the posted rate on the meters. Only the posted rates on each meter will be enforced.
While former Mayor Richard Daley was in office, Chicago was paid about $1.2 billion for a 99-year lease of the meters. Daley last year landed a job with the firm that helped negotiate the parking meter deal.
The company that now manages the meters, Chicago Parking Meters LLC, reportedly made more than $80 million from the meters in 2011. The company has also billed the city millions for meters taken out of service, but Mayor Rahm Emanuel has so far refused to cut a check, arguing CPM's numbers are off. He's ordered an independent audit.
The 2013 hike will be the last of increases clearly defined in the contract. Beginning in 2014, rates can be adjusted annually using a formula tied to the rate of inflation, the Chicago Tribune reminded.