Burlington Delays 'Smart' Parking Meters, Higher Rates Until November 1

Sep 29, 2014

Parking rates in Vermont’s largest city are going up. And Burlington will introduce “smart” parking meters where drivers can pay with credit cards.

But the roll-out of the new system has been pushed back by a month.

If you’ve ever driven around downtown Burlington looking for a parking spot, you know it feels as though spaces are limited.

The city is making some changes, but they’re not adding more spaces. Instead, they’re raising rates in the city’s center by 50 cents an hour, and extending hours of enforcement from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. in some areas.

Parking rates in some city garages will also go up by a dollar an hour.

Kelly Devine is the executive director of the Burlington Business Association. She’s heading up the pilot project.

“We expect some people are motivated by convenience, and some people are motivated by price,” said Devine. “And we always want to make sure we have options for both.”

The idea is simple: those who want to park close to the city’s center will pay more for street parking, and be subject to longer hours of enforcement.

The pricier meters will be what are called “smart” meters, meaning they’ll accept credit card payments.

Those who want to save may park a little farther away, and use traditional coin-operated parking meters.

"One of the components of the meters was delayed in shipping, so therefore our manufacturer had a delayed delivery. As a result, we want to make sure we do a smooth, clean roll-out of all this stuff. So we've decided to delay everything to November 1." - Kelly Devine, Burlington Business Association

John Killacky is the executive director of the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts. He’s on Burlington’s Downtown Parking Advisory Committee.

He says he fields a lot of comments from concert-goers anxious about finding parking near the Flynn, but when he got the chance to review a parking survey, he was surprised at the results.

“There’s a perception that there isn’t enough parking for folks. But what the parking survey showed us is that there’s a lot of parking available,” said Killacky. “So I need to better communicate where that parking is.”

Kelly Devine says the city is also rolling out signage to help drivers, especially visitors, find some of the under-utilized garages and parking spaces in Burlington.

The pilot program was supposed to launch October 1. But a component of the new parking meters wasn’t ready. Devine says the city had no choice but to delay.

“One of the components of the meters was delayed in shipping, so therefore our manufacturer had a delayed delivery. As a result, we want to make sure we do a smooth, clean roll-out of all this stuff,” said Devine. “So we’ve decided to delay everything to November 1.”

Burlington officials will evaluate how the new meters and rates are working before deciding which measures will become permanent.

The city plans to release more details about the project in the coming weeks.