Parking meter changes coming to Downtown and OTR

Dec 19, 2014

In two weeks, new parking hours and meter rates will be coming to Downtown Cincinnati and Over-the-Rhine.  

Starting January 2nd, parking meters will be enforced from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.  Currently meters are enforced from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Central Business District (CBD) and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in most parts of Over-the-Rhine (OTR), and Sunday parking had been free.  

In addition, the parking meter rates in OTR will increase to $1 per hour.  Currently it is 50 cents per hour.  Rates in the CBD will remain unchanged at $2 per hour.

Cincinnati is also installing more of the new parking meters that accept debit and credit cards in OTR.  Most of the downtown area already has the new “smart” meters.  

“We want to get the word out so that drivers pay the meters, which is now much easier to do,” said city Manager Harry Black in a press release.  “It’s a lot cheaper to pay a parking meter than to get a ticket.”

A ticket for an expired meter is $45, and that amount doubles if it is not paid within seven days.

City spokesman Rocky Merz said the city is modernizing its parking system and this is another step in the process.  Merz said the city has a balancing act with parking meters.

“Clearly nobody wants to pay more for meters, nobody wants to be more prone to getting a parking ticket,” Merz said.  “However we also have businesses who want to see turnover in front of their properties.  And the system we have now hasn’t been modified, it’s long overdue.  This is going to bring a lot more capabilities, make it more customer friendly.”

Another change will allow people using parking meters in some areas to pay for three hours instead of two.

 “So that could be an advantage if you’re headed down to a show at the Aronoff,” Merz said.  “You’d be able to pay the meter at six o’clock, and then not have to stop back.  You’d go get a bite to eat, watch the show, have a cocktail afterwards and not have to stop back and feed your meter.”

More parking changes are planned for mid-January.  Several neighborhood business districts will be getting the new “smart” meters.  Those areas include Clifton, Hyde Park, Mt. Lookout, Northside, O’Bryonville, Oakley, Pleasant Ridge and Uptown.  Meter rates in these areas will remain at 50 cents per hour and they will be enforced from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The city is installing 1,500 new meters right now, and more could be added later.  Also sometime next year, you’ll be able to use a “smartphone” to pay for parking and also add time to an expiring parking meter.

“Nice for folks you know if you’re out and about, you’re sitting there having dinner, and you’re meter’s about to come up,” Merz said.  “With the swipe of your smartphone you’ll be able to re-up your meter.”

A city memo said the long-term plan is create multi-space parking “that will produce more aesthetically clean public right-of-way areas in Over-the-Rhine.”  That likely means some of the new “smart” meters being installed in OTR could be removed in favor of the multi-space option.  That work could begin in the spring depending on when the equipment is available.

The city is contracting with Xerox to install the new meters and that company will also be analyzing data to help with future rates and hours.

The additional revenue from the increased parking meter rates will be used to partially cover the costs of operating the streetcar once it begin passenger service in September 2016.