CHICAGO (CBS)—Following a CBS 2 report, the City of Evanston has fixed a problematic parking payment system criticized for hindering business in the downtown district.

The problems started in March when the city replaced more than 800 single-space parking meters with 80 pay boxes.

Not everyone was pleased with the modernized parking payment system, however, and soon city officials were flooded with complaints.

Merchants said the new system posed an inconvenience for shoppers and was hurting sales.

“The last month has been a disaster and madness,” Evanston resident Barbara Agresti said.

Dawn Okamoto runs Secret Treasures, a local shop that’s been open for 26 years. The business relies on city-owned parking spots for its customers.

“We are on track to have our worst month we’ve ever had,” Okamoto said. “If we continue to have these slides in our sales it’s a big concern.

The problem was centered on a glitch on the new parking app that accompanies the pay boxes.

The new software blocked drivers from parking more than once a day in the same zone.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” said Abby Turilli of Evanston. “It has taken me awhile to realize I can’t go back to a place I already parked.”

Another downtown Evanston shopper, Richard Shunick, said he often makes multiple trips to businesses during a single day.

Some drivers said they were so fed up with the new parking system that they stopped visiting local businesses.

“For the first time we went out and didn’t spend our money in downtown Evanston because we can no longer park here,” Agresti said.

Drivers also complained about getting parking tickets that were electronically issued for non-payment after they had paid for their parking.

After CBS 2 aired a report on the issue this week, Evanston officials said the problems have since been fixed.

The reworked software now lets shoppers park more than once in the same zone in a given day, as long as 30 minutes have passed since they last parked in the spot.

During the past year, the use of Evanston’s parking app has more than doubled and last month reached 70,000 transactions.






Vince Gerasole