...You Filthy Animal

February 19, 2013 at 2:24pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Sometimes I’m entertained by the smallest things.

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Yesterday, Jordan Pascale tweeted that he was working on a story about Lincoln’s new parking meters. Knowing that the new meters offer a credit card payment option, I asked if Pascale was going to headline his article “Keep The Change”. Sure enough, he went for it. I assume my royalty check is in the mail.

The story is actually a bit bigger than that. Along with the new parking meters come new parking fees. The hourly rate doubles—from $0.50 to $1.00. Although a 100% increase in any fee is generally a bad thing, in this case the increase is long overdue. Parking meter rates haven’t increased in 18 years, yet demand for on-street parking in Downtown Lincoln is higher than ever. Simple economics suggests it’s worth the City’s while to charge more. In addition, the first hour is free in City-owned parking garages. Downtown offers more and better parking options—not to mention reasons to bother going there in the first place—than ever before.

The new meters can also have their time limits adjusted on the fly. That means that, in theory at least, the meters could offer longer parking options on Husker football game days or for other special events. That’s all well and good, although it makes me wonder why the rate can’t be adjusted as well. $2.50 per hour parking on Husker game days, particularly north of O Street, sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

Baby steps, I suppose. For now, simply adding a plastic payment option is a great step.

Oh, and for those of you who need an explanation of this post’s title:

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The Comments

Matt Olberding February 19, 2013 at 3:15pm

Just to clarify, since the most of the general public doesn’t understand how a newspaper works, the reporters who write the stories don’t write the headlines that appear in the paper. Those are written by a copy editor based on the space available that’s dictated by the layout and where the story is placed on the page. In this case, “Keep the change” fits well in the one-column format. Doesn’t mean Jordan didn’t suggest that as a headline, but he has no control over what ends up at the top of his story.

Mr. Wilson February 19, 2013 at 4:07pm

You’re just jealous that I gave Jordan such an awesome headline. Don’t worry, though, because I’m equal opportunity. Hit me up on Twitter and I’ll happily title your articles for ya grin

George February 20, 2013 at 2:26pm

See, I don’t want the meters to be jacked up to $2.50 on football Saturday and I don’t want the times adjusted.

Not everyone in Lincoln goes downtown for the football game.  And the price of parking garages are already increased for the game (the last time we had to pay $12.50), so if someone wants to visit a local store or the Farmers Market, they can either pay $12.50 for the parking garages or $1 for the parking meter. 

Everyone keeps making the argument that parking meters are for short term parking, but in the same breath, talk about increasing prices and time to accommodate the football game (which is not short term).  We need to start looking at the meters in a way that doesn’t contradict itself.

The way it is right now, we just don’t go downtown when there is a game due to parking.  That is unfortunate that we are putting up road blocks to a group of consumers who feed money into the local economy.

Fletch February 20, 2013 at 3:49pm

I think you are reading too much into the football game comment. I think the meters need to be used efficiently for the other 358 days of the year.

I’m not a downtown guy. I avoid it like the plague. I do like taking advantage of the free hour of parking in the garages.

I do think, on the 45 Saturdays a year when there are not home football games, that free Saturday parking makes sense. I remember when the parking garages were free all weekend. Seems like that would be a good way to encourage people to come downtown, and shop or see a movie and take their time at a restaurant, etc.

George February 20, 2013 at 6:32pm

I don’t think I am reading to much into the football comment.

This is in the article…

“When parking spaces are both cheap and convenient, people endlessly circle, looking for a bargain, Landis said.”

followed by..

“Landis said the programmable feature would allow the maximum parking time to be adjusted. For instance, meters can be set to allow for nine hours of parking on Husker home football game days.”

Do the math.  On football Saturday, you are charged a flat fee to get into parking garages.  Last year it was $12.50.  You were then allowed to park in the garage all day but many only parked during the game.  Parking meters are $1/hour for 9 hours, making them a bargain at $9 for the game.  Which means, they are still a cheaper option than the parking garages.

Maybe they plan to do away with charging more during Football Saturdays in parking garages, but that isn’t mentioned in the article.  But with the arena opening soon, an issue that only affected us a few weekends a year will soon become year round (and I have no hesitation putting money down on them raising prices during arena events as well if they don’t cease that practice across the board).

If they want parking garages to be used more than parking meters, stop letting people park there for more than 20 minutes.  Raise the price of the parking tickets.  Keep the prices of the parking garages the same, no matter if there is an event or not.  Seems simple enough to me.

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