Parking in Burlington, VT: A Change for the Better

FAQ

Burlington Parking Frequently Asked Questions

 

General Parking Questions

1. Can I use coins on the smart meters if I prefer?

Yes, smart meters accept coins.

2. It seems like the minimum amount of time you can select on the smart meters is an hour.  Can I pay for less time?

Yes.  The default setting is one hour, but you can increase or decrease the amount of time by pushing the “+ Time” or “- Time” buttons.

 3. Is handicapped parking free?

Yes, if you have a handicapped license or placard you can park for up to one day in a metered spot at no charge.

4. Is my credit information secure if I use it in a smart meter?

Yes. The company providing the meters, IPS, receives annual certification from a third party Qualified Security Assessor (QSAs) as recognized by the PCI Security Council for both Level 1 Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) and Payment Application Data Security Standard (PA-DSS). Additionally, IPS undergoes quarterly external security scanning by an Approved Scanning Vendor (ASV). IPS’s payment gateway and software meets the terms of the Visa Cardholder Information Security Program (CISP) and the MasterCard Site Data Protection (SDP) programs.

5. What are the parking meter rates and enforcement times?

The parking meter rates are $1.50 an hour in the downtown core Monday-Saturday and free on Sundays and holidays. enforcement times run 7:00am-10:00pm.

Questions on the Downtown Parking and Transportation Management Plan:

1. Why is the City of Burlington implementing a new parking initiative now?

The City Council passed a resolution in November 2013 that formally launched the Downtown Parking Improvement Initiative. The reason for initiating this project was two-fold:

  • The City and local business assistance providers have received feedback from business owners, tourists, and residents alike that the parking system is not working well.  Many people have expressed the opinion that it is difficult to find parking in the heart of downtown, signage to direct people to parking resources is inadequate, technology is outdated, and parking garages need enhanced security.
  • In order to maintain the City’s parking assets and make the improvements that people would like to see, our parking system needs to be managed in a more sustainable way.

2. Why are you raising rates and enforcing the meters until 10pm in the downtown core? You say you’re trying to improve the customer experience.  Won’t that make it worse?

Best practices in parking management tell us that at any given parking asset (garages, on-street meters per block), 15% of the spaces should be vacant at any given time so that people can locate parking wherever they go. Parking counts in the downtown core completed by our consultant, DESMAN Associates, tell us that at peak times in the core, our on-street spaces are almost 100% full. This is actually bad for customer experience, because it affords the customer no choice in where they park. Using price as a lever allows people to make the right choices for them. Those who are more convenience-motivated may park right outside their destination if they are willing to pay to do so, and those who are more price-motivated may park a block or two away from the core and get free or reduced parking. As an example, you may have someone driving into town who is late for a dinner date or a downtown show, and that person may want the opportunity to park right outside of their destination. The way our system works now, they cannot make that choice, and they are often frustrated as a result. In short, increasing rates and extending enforcement in the downtown core will improve the customer experience by helping us to better manage our parking supply, reduce congestion in the core, and afford people choices in where they park.

3. What are smart meters?

Smart meters are similar in appearance to coin-operated meters, but they accept credit cards and have a digital screen to display information. Smart meters accept coins as well, and provide flexibility and convenience by allowing for two different payment options. These machines use wireless technology to send and receive payment activity information and provide operational status information automatically – unique features that traditional coin-only meters do not have. Smart meters are built for the future and are capable of integrating with third-party technologies such as mobile payments, parking guidance applications, etc., which will ensure our technology is relevant for years to come. Smart meters accept credit cards, quarters, dimes, nickels, dollar coins, or a combination of credit card and coins. A future phase of the meters will include an app that allows customers to receive a text alert when the meter is about to expire and pay using a cell phone.

4. How many smart meters are being installed, and where?

285 smart meters were installed in the “downtown core,” which is bounded by Cherry Street on the north, Main Street to the south, Pine Street to the west, and South Winooski Avenue to the east. The older meters remain in place everywhere else in the city.

5. How do we know these new meters will work – do other cities have them?

The technologies are new to Burlington, but they have been proven to work well in a number of cities for about 10 years. Burlington has been slow to adopt smart meters and parking kiosks. Here’s a short list of cities with credit card parking options: Portsmouth, NH; Norwalk, CT; Rapid City, Iowa; and Boulder, CO. Winooski is considering adding some parking kiosks in the near future.

6. On the kiosks, why did you choose the license plate ID system vs. parking space numbers?

We did consider all the options, and the license plate ID was the most customer-friendly. You can take your parking with you if you decide to move your car to a different space. And given our Vermont climate, space numbers can be hard to see under snow and ice. Also, it saves the city thousands of dollars by not requiring painting of space numbers on the curbs every few years.

7. I’ve been in cities where you can add money to your smart meter from your phone. Is this possible now?

Pay-by-cell will be available beginning November 1st, 2015.

8. Will the new parking changes apply to the entire city or just downtown?

The smart meters and the accompanying rate changes and extended enforcement hours apply only in the “downtown core,” which is bounded by Cherry Street to the north, Main Street to the south, Pine Street to the west, and South Winooski Avenue to the east.  Parking rates, hours, and technology did not change outside the core. If you are looking for free parking after 6pm, you may park anywhere on-street outside of the core. There are some changes to City-owned parking garages as well.  Those garages include the Marketplace Garage, the College Street Garage, and the Lakeview Garage.

9. How is the City paying for new meters? How will the revenue be used?

The smart meters are being paid for through enhanced revenues generated by rate increases, later enforcement hours, and their ability to accept credit cards. New revenue generated over and above the cost of the meters will be used to fund improvements to the entire parking system including major garage enhancements.

10. What other changes are occurring?

Please see the Parking Rates page for all technology, rate, and enforcement hour changes, both on-street and in City garages. Major garage enhancements are also underway. There will be further changes over the next year based on recommendations from the studies currently underway and feedback from the public. These changes are likely to include pay by cell, among other things.