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Pay to Park: Meters take a toll on Loop parking for students

By Yifan Gong
On March 12, 2012

If you rely on your car to get to DePaul's Loop campus, you face an extra impediment in city driving this quarter: a rise in the price of parking meters. Beginning Jan. 2 in the Loop and moving outward into the rest of the city's neighborhoods, the price of parking meters is on the rise.

In 82 percent of Chicago's metered parking spaces, rates will be $1.75 per hour.

In the central business district outside the Loop (the area bounded by Lake Michigan to the East, North Avenue to the North, Halsted to the West and Roosevelt Road to the South), representing approximately 16 percent of the metered parking spaces, rates will be $3.50 per hour.

Inside the Loop itself, representing less than 3 percent of the metered parking spaces, rates will be $5.75 per hour from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and $5.75 for two hours from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. Outside the Loop, payment is not required from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. unless otherwise noted.

There are 11-metered parking places near DePaul's Loop campus. Ten of them cost $5.75 per hour with a three-hour max rate. The other one costs the same but has a two-hour max rate.

"It's easier to find a parking place around the Loop now because fewer students were using the parking meters to park their cars on the street," said Joseph Schwieterman, a professor in the School of Public Service at DePaul.

"I should say that's bad for DePaul students because they like to park cheap," he said.

This quarter, students who use the parking meters may now spend $17.25 if they have a three-hour class.

"More students were using the parking garage, or they would park longer distance away if they cannot find a parking place, and probably it will lead to some illegal parking, like parking in the shopping mall," Schwieterman said.

The higher price of the parking meters encourages students to use public transportation more often. Some students, however, still prefer to drive but feel helpless to change the policy.

"I used to park my cars at the parking meters. I don't know why they raised it up," said Liren Shi, a DePaul student who tried to pay at the pay box on Wabash Avenue. "I think the school should do something."

Schwieterman said there was going to be more pressure on the school to provide good parking options for students who want to drive to school, but there is little the university can do.

"That's the private company running it," said Schwieterman. "We had no choice."

The good news is that no parking spaces will be lost, and DePaul is working to help students out, said Schwieterman.

"DePaul is going to have some agreement with the city about the parking issues."

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