clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

In Detroit, Parking Meters are the New Streetlights

New, 20 comments

Despite a complete dependence on cars—and therefore, places to park them—the City of Detroit has zero knack for handling the business of metered parking. Year after year, the city's Municipal Parking Department somehow fails to make any money at all, reports the Detroit News. Economically, parking meters aren't doing the city any good. Woodward Avenue might as well be lined with lawn flamingos. Or Pinwheels.

Turns out, 50% of Detroit's parking meters really are the urban equivalent of lawn decor. According to an estimate from Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr's office, half of the city's 3,404 parking meters aren't working at any given time.

From what it looks like, Orr's office and the City of Detroit have allocated only a few brain cells toward solving this problem. Rather than fixing the parking meters or exploring an app-based payment method that doesn't require a functioning meter, many are saying that Detroit should simply increase its parking fines, and possibly the hourly rates. As you've likely heard countless times, the city's parking prices ($1/hr, $20 fines) are among the lowest in the country.

Like many 'Detroit vs. other cities' comparisons, this one isn't very relevant. Sure, hourly parking in Chicago is 650% pricer than in Detroit. As it should be. Chicagoans have a mass transit alternative, and parking downtown is a luxury. For the most part, Detroiters have to drive and they have to park. Parking payments are similar to an unavoidable tax.

If there's one thing proven by Detroit's absurdly high property taxes and auto insurance rates, it's that making a broken system more expensive doesn't fix it. It just makes people stop using it. In a downtown already thinned by private lots and economically dependent on commuters, that seems like a dumb game to play.
· Detroit may raise fines for parking violations [Detroit News]