Parking meter situation more than just a hassle

By Editorial Board

If enough reasons didn’t already exist to believe that Mayor Richard M. Daley is a shady politician, Chicagoans have yet another one.

Look to any major news source in the city within the past week, and one of the top headlines consists of none other than our beloved privatized parking meters.

But this time, Chicago drivers aren’t griping just about sky-high meter prices—though they have quadrupled in some cases, according to a March 23 Chicago Tribune article.

Back in December 2008, Daley signed an outrageous 75-year lease, worth $1.16 billion, with infrastructure investment fund Chicago Parking Meter, LLC, managed by Morgan Stanley.  This move makes Chicago the first city in the nation to use privatized parking meters.

Fast forward almost six months later, from the original privitization, and it’s safe to say that anger experienced by drivers has snowballed into extreme outrage.

One of the first issues with this new system is that it is incredibly inconvenient for drivers. Under the new plan, it will now take up to 28 quarters to park in the Loop for only two hours.

For those who drive to the city at least five days a week for work, that’s a lot of change, and a lot of trips to convenience stores to get quarters for your dollar bills. Clearly, the urgency for implementing a cashless system isn’t a top priority, something that is necessary in a situation like this.

Aside from cost, the biggest issue with privatized meters is that it is a completely irreversible system.

Because of a seemingly quick decision made by Daley, Chicago drivers now have to suffer for 75 years. This quick fix begs a crucial question: What does the privatization of our city’s infrastructure say about our mayor’s ability to manage the city?

If drivers are going to be stuck with a horrible system like this, it should, at the very least, be revealed where the money is going. Is it going toward the city’s short-term (and extremely necessary) needs? Or is it paying for something frivolous like Chicago’s potential 2016 Olympic bid?