Downtown parking meter rates to increase, and new mobile app payment options to be available

photo by: Thad Allender/Journal-World File Photo

A line of parking meters is pictured in this file photo from May 2007.

Changes are coming next week to downtown metered parking, including increased parking rates and the option of making payments using a mobile app instead of coins.

Downtown visitors will soon be able to choose between using the current coin-operated parking meters or new mobile payment options, according to a city news release. The changes coincide with an increase in parking rates. Meters will be updated to reflect the increased rates, and stickers will be added to meters listing mobile payment options throughout the week.

City of Lawrence parking staff will implement the parking changes from March 22 to March 28, and all updates will be complete by March 29.

Specifically, rates for two-hour meters will increase from 50 cents per hour to $1 per hour, and rates for 10-hour meters will increase from 10 cents per hour to 20 cents per hour. Parking garages will increase from $1 per day to $2 per day. Other parking rates and fines have also recently increased.

The City Commission voted to increase downtown parking rates and fines as part of its 2020 budget, with plans to use the additional revenue to fund projects to modernize parking downtown with additions such as new kiosk stations and more automated enforcement mechanisms, as the Journal-World previously reported. Parking permit rates were already increased this year, from $192 per year to $240 per year. Parking ticket fines also increased from $5 per citation to $10 per citation.

The parking meter rate changes were initially set to begin in 2020. All rate changes were then delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic, as the city suspended parking enforcement in March because of reduced activity downtown and did not resume enforcement until September.

During this implementation of the new rates and payment options next week, parking enforcement will be limited to complaint-driven calls and public safety concerns, according to the release. Enforcement will begin as usual starting March 29.

There will be two mobile payment apps available to those who park in downtown Lawrence: Passport Parking and ParkMobile. The release states both options will charge users a small convenience fee for the service. Both apps are available for Apple and Android devices and also allow users to use the platform via their websites.

City Parking Supervisor Brad Harrell said the system provides both a cashless option and a way for the city to use data to tailor parking services to community needs. More information on mobile payments and changes to parking rates is available on the City of Lawrence website, Lawrenceks.org/parking.

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