Chicago Drivers Pay More for On-Street Parking Than Other Cities: Study

Drivers in Chicago pay more on average for on-street parking than in several other major cities across the country, a new study has found.

Parking rates for two hours in the Loop run around $13, according to the study released Wednesday by transportation data company INRIX. San Francisco comes in second at $12, while Seattle drivers are third, shelling out $9 for 120 minutes in a spot on the street.

The only U.S. cities larger than Chicago pay significantly less for on-street parking downtown, the study finds, as Los Angeles drivers pay $8 and New Yorkers pay just $7.

Dallas, Atlanta and Detroit all average $4 for two hours of parking on the street.

While Chicago may be tops in feeding the meter, off-street parking is a slightly different story. The average rate for two hours in parking lots or garages within a mile of downtown Chicago sits at $21.54, third highest of the 10 cities studied.

New York City is first in that department, with drivers paying $32.80 for two hours, and Boston comes in second with an average rate of $25.59.

INRIX compared information from its database of 100,000 parking locations across 8,700 cities worldwide and surveyed 6,000 drivers in 10 U.S. cities to find the economic costs of "parking pain," finding that American drivers spend an average of 17 hours each year searching for spot.

However, on that front, Chicago is well above average, as Windy City drivers spend 56 hours annually looking for parking. That comes at a cost of $1,174 per driver – equating to $1.3 billion across the city – in wasted time, fuel and emissions each year, according to INRIX.

In that department, New York City is ranked first again, with drivers spending 107 hours a year searching for a spot at a cost of $2,243 per driver, and $4.3 billion citywide.

And if you’ve ever added extra time on the meter just to be safe – you’re far from alone, INRIX found. Chicago drivers add an average of 40 extra hours annually to their parking transactions to avoid a ticket, costing $353 individually each year – and $400 million citywide.

That's 10 times more than the actual price of getting a ticket, as Chicago drivers receive an average of 0.71 parking tickets each year, adding up to $35 per person and $40 million across the city.

The cost of extra parking time added to avoid a ticket costs the average New Yorker $896 a year, with overpayment across the city reaching $1.7 billion – once again, tops in the country.

While the cost of tickets and overpaying certainly add up, they aren’t the only financial impact of parking frustrations.

63 percent of drivers surveyed reported that they avoid driving to a destination due to the challenge of finding parking, leading to a serious impact on local businesses and economic activity.

61 percent reported feeling stressed while looking for parking with 42 percent saying they’ve missed an appointment and 34 percent abandoning a trip entirely over parking frustrations.

"The search for parking, overpayments and fines is a $96 billion problem in the U.S.," said INRIX economist Bob Pishue, highlighting that “smart parking solutions” would lessen the burden on both the economy, and drivers’ quality of life.

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