Commuters who use the Desplaines Avenue parking lot on the north side of the CTA terminal will see a new automated pay system in the next couple of weeks.
The new system, touted by the village as Park, Pay & Go! promises to be easier for commuters and more efficient for the municipality.
Currently, rusted yellow “honor boxes” are used to collect parking fees. Commuters place $3 in the small slots numbered to match the parking space. While a sign requests that people use coins, dollar bills are often crammed into the boxes, according to village officials.
The new automated pay station that will replace the honor box will accept coins, dollar bills, credit cards, debit cards and a new Forest Park Card. Available at the pay station in the lot and at village hall, the Forest Park Card will be a prepaid card used to pay for parking. Money can be added to cards from the pay station at the lot.
Sara and David Burrell of Salt Lake City recently struggled to get their coins into the box, and found themselves banging on the contraption.
“It was a little difficult,” the couple said.
Ken Hoch of Elmhurst, Ill., frequents the lot and said the system could benefit from more accountability.
“I think it’s a good idea if someone is monitoring the lot,” Hoch said. “It seems like half of the people aren’t paying now.”
Hoch also said he has trouble making sure he pays for the correct spot. Sometimes the box that corresponds with a parking space is difficult to locate, he said.
Village Administrator Michael Sturino said the village chose this automated pay system after looking at several options, including the system used by the CTA in the lot south of the terminal. The village’s new system was chosen for its simplicity and efficiency, Sturino said.
Unlike the CTA system used in the south lot, the village’s system will collect money after the car has been parked. The new pay stations will not give out change.
Sturino anticipates the change will also bring an increase in revenue for the village.
“It’s going to be much easier to collect money,” Sturino said. “With the old system you needed two people, and sometimes on windy days the money would blow down the street. Now, the money is going into a locked box which goes right to the bank, and much of the fees won’t be in cash. They’ll be collected electronically.”
Because cash was placed in the slots, the honor box system is vulnerable to theft. The new system will also be easier to monitor, using electronic access codes that verify payment, Sturino said.
Commuters will also receive receipts for proof of payment. With the current system, if there is a dispute over payment, there is no paper trail to follow.
Amanda DeCarlo and members of her car pool use the lot on a regular basis.
“I think it will be a lot better,” Amanda DeCarlo said. “Sometimes we don’t always have all the coins.”
To notify people of the switch, the village distributed flyers to commuters who use the CTA station. On the day of the change over, attendants will be at the pay station to assist commuters.
If all goes well, the village may expand the automated system to include other lots in Forest Park, Sturino said.