JOLIET – The city on Friday activated the new parking pay stations installed downtown earlier in the week.
The pay stations will replace parking meters on the south half of downtown as the city continues to modernize its decades-old cash-only parking system.
The change makes sense to downtown workers such as Anna Bertani, who said she typically does not carry the quarters needed to feed the streetside parking meters.
“If I have any change, I take it out of my purse because it makes it heavy,” Bertani said.
The pay stations went up in a day. But removing the meters will be a tougher task, Joliet Parking Superintendent Thomas Schwerha said.
“For the short term – while we are transitioning – people will be able to pay at the stations or at the meters,” Schwerha said.
Coins remain an option at the pay stations. Motorists even get to use nickels and dimes, too, which was not an option for the quarters-only meters.
People who park, however, do have to walk to the station, get a stub and go back to their vehicle to put it in the window, which requires some extra effort beyond feeding meters located next to the parking spots.
The city installed the pay stations after testing them on a section of Van Buren Street, where they proved to be popular.
Same rates and hours
The new station installed this week outside of the Route 66 Diner on Clinton Street, however, has been eyed with suspicion by his customers, restaurant owner Tony Sales said.
“They complain about that – the box out there. They ask if that’s going to be all day,” Sales said.
His customers worry that Joliet is going to require 24-hour parking and raise the rates.
Schwerha said no.
The same rates and hours are in place as before: $1 an hour between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturdays. Parking is free on Sundays.
Cash or coin-only systems gradually are disappearing downtown as the city equips its lots and streetside parking spots for motorists more accustomed to paying with credit or debit cards.
Some remain, however.
Nineteen pay stations were installed in what the city calls Zone A, which is the busiest section of downtown. It covers an area that is bordered by Cass and Washington streets on the north and south, and by Scott and Joliet streets on the east and west.
Some isolated areas will remain meter parking in Zone A on short stretches of street that have only a couple of spots.
“It doesn’t make sense to put in a pay station to serve two spots, he said.
Pay station installation cost $179,000. Total Parking Solutions supplied and installed the stations.
Downtown streets north of Cass Street will remain coin-only meter parking – at least for now.
Decks and lots
The city’s parking decks also use a cash-only system that probably hasn’t changed much since they were built in the late 1970s.
Schwerha said the city next will explore the possibility of modernizing payment options at the parking decks.
The two parking decks have 1,050 spaces.
Joliet also has nine parking lots with 1,325 spaces. All allow some form of credit or debit payment option. Six of the lots are located near the Gateway Center, the city’s new transportation complex still is under construction, and Joliet has been updating the lots for train commuters.
WHAT’S NEW, WHAT’S NOT
• 19 pay stations taking credit, debit and coins were activated Friday for the downtown area bordered by Cass and Washington streets on the north and south, and by Scott and Joliet streets on the east and west;
• Coin-only parking meters remain in place north of Cass Street;
• Parking decks at Ottawa and Cass streets remain cash-only.