The Meters Were Step 1

By: Mr. Wilson on May 31, 2013
Lincoln's Downtown parking meters have all been upgraded to fancy new digital models. That was big news a couple months ago. At the time, some people bemoaned the change, fearing it would lead to broader parking rate increases. A tipster sent this in to me this morning:
Just wanted to pass this on. Last weekend my dad went to the farmers market and parked in [a] garage. They stayed less than an hour (first hour free is advertised) but when they left, they were charged $3. He had a long conversation with Park and Go. They are removing the first hour free on Saturdays. This is something that I kind of saw coming when we talked about the new meters that they can adjust for football Saturday. This allows them to continue to charge $12+ on game day while also getting the same out of the meters. I have also started seeing signs that read that the one hour free ends at 5.
I haven't verified any of this just yet, though I have asked via Twitter. The Park & Go website doesn't mention any restrictions on the "first hour free" promotion. If these changes are true, then the website is now misleading at best. It's possible, though, that what the tipster's father actually ran into was special event parking rates. They were charged $3 for "less than an hour" which is far above the normal rate of $1 per hour. Typically those special event rates are collected upon entrance to the garage, though. I haven't been down to the Farmer's Market in ages so I can't say for sure what the parking situation is like. Ultimately we're left with a couple questions:
  1. Is "first hour free" gone on Saturdays at some or all of the parking garages?
  2. Does "first hour free" end at 5pm, or any other time?
  3. Why was somebody charged $3 upon exiting a $1/hour parking garage after less than an hour?
I'll let you know if I get a reply from Park & Go.


See what your neighbors have to say about this.

May 31, 2013 at 2:18PM

First hour free is a great way to deal with the lack of parking downtown.  With all the new places to eat and shop in downtown the need continues to grow.  I am much more likely to go for a meal or lunch and easily park in a garage if I know I won’t have to pay for it.  $3 for less than an hour is excessive. 

Can’t the garages deal with football traffic by doing “Event” parking?  Last year it was cheaper to park in a meter and get a ticket and then pay it online than buy a legit football pass for parking at the same meter.

May 31, 2013 at 3:01PM

We ran into the $3 parking garage charge for the farmer’s market last summer too. In 2011, we were able to get that first hour for free, but they changed it in 2012. When we asked them about it at that time, I was left with the impression it was just a farmer’s market change and they considered it a “special event” and increased the rate to $3. If they take away the first hour free or put limitations on it, that would be a big disappointment.

May 31, 2013 at 3:17PM

At its core, this is basically the age old “taxes” quandry. If we want the city to be able to afford to take care of our needs in the areas of roads & parking and whatnot, we need to pay taxes. Meters and garage fees are effectively a use tax, if I understand correctly.

I am all for paying my share and supporting our local government through use taxes. However - I echo what ya’ll are saying. I often find myself consciously choosing to dine elsewhere in the city after realizing that I am going to have the both the inconvenience of parking downtown AND having to pay for it to boot.

It’s a pickle, for sure.

May 31, 2013 at 3:40PM

I posted in great detail about my gut feeling about the priced meters here:

So lets say that the Farmers Market is a special event.  That clearly eludes to arena events being special events as well. 

I love downtown.  I go down there for meetings and to eat out.  I am growing pretty bitter though about the choke hold that the city has on this issue.  I understand that they need to recoup fees for the outside visitors during events, but when it adversely affects those who live and work directly in the community it just stinks.

Just Thinkin'
May 31, 2013 at 4:11PM

I’m disappointed in the City. David Landis has repeatedly said the purpose of raising the meter rates was to encourage people to park in the garages and get one free hour of parking. If they are going to charge $3.00 to park less than an hour in a parking garage, people would be better off to park in the meters. I think the City and Mr. Landis owe the public an explanation and an apology. We were deceived.

City of Lincoln Parking Services Division
May 31, 2013 at 4:14PM

Mr. Wilson,
Thank you for your inquiries.  We would like to clear up any confusion about the First Hour FREE promotion. 

1. First Hour FREE on Saturdays

City of Lincoln Parking Services Division
May 31, 2013 at 4:30PM

You’re right…it CAN be cheaper to receive a $10 parking citation than park in some downtown garages, but you would have to pay that citation within 7 days or the Administrative fee will accrue. Your best bet, when parking at a meter on game days, is to visit a parking garage and ask for the $9 hangtag for all day meter parking. We sell them at all parking garages on game day! 

As for “event parking” in the garage on Husker games, visit our website,, to save up to $4 on a prepaid, guaranteed parking space in one of our garages. Click on Event Parking for the list of games & available facilities. Save money, gas and time not driving around looking for a meter.

June 1, 2013 at 1:04PM

Here is what I have a problem with.

No where on this page does it notate special circumstances or that it varies per garage and day.

And since I know the person that this happened to… the $3 fee was not collected as they were going out, not in.  The First hour free signs were visible and not covered.

June 3, 2013 at 7:12PM

Was this line just added to the ParkAndGo page in response to your dialog?

“See Parking Specials for periodic exclusions”

June 5, 2013 at 1:46AM

Yes it was.  It was not there when the question was first addressed to them.

June 5, 2013 at 1:51AM

However, their advertising of “Park & Go - First Hour Free” in their logo at the top of the page doesn’t really reflect the truth anymore either.  It really should read

Park & Go - First Hour Free*

And at the bottom of every page

*Some exclusions apply

I just think it is incredibly bad business to create a campaign (Free Hour Free) and then create restrictions and provisions later that directly conflict with the campaign in the first place.  I also feel that their whole explanation on why they switched to the new meters and raised the prices for those meters are smoke and mirror.

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