06/15/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Parking Meter Lessee Has 'Substantially Improved': City

The City of Chicago has released a multi-page press release claiming that "Chicago Parking Meters, LLC has substantially improved operational performance of meters."

CPM is going to fast track the installation of 3,000 Pay & Display units by years end, eliminating nearly 30,000 of the city's current 36,000 single head meters, according to the release. Drivers can use credit and debit cards at the new pay boxes, an increasingly important option as meter rates have soared to as much $3.50 an hour.

CPM has so far replaced 4,000 traditional, single head meters with 450 pay boxes.

"We are pleased that CPM has decided to make it easier for Chicagoans to use parking meters by installing a pay box cashless system far sooner than our agreement requires," stated Gene Saffold, the city's Chief Financial Officer.

The city claims these boxes are among many steps CPM, through its operational partner LAZ Parking, has taken to substantially address the issues that have been plaguing both companies as the city's meters transitioned to private management.

Since the torrent of problems erupted in mid-March, CPM has increased the number of meter mechanics from 10 to 35, and collection personnel from 15 to 38. The company also expanded the number of meter routes and increased meter collection to seven days a week. CPM still is utilizing 30 staffers from the city's Department of Revenue to "assist with operations and training," according to the release.

"We are committed to providing the highest level of customer service for the users of Chicago's metered parking system, and this equipment will vastly improve that service," said Dennis Pedrelli, CPM's Chief Executive Officer.

As of May 11, the city claims there were only 150 meters reported as broken or otherwise inoperable-- less than 1% of all meters. And CPM maintenance staff are supposedly now responding to reports of broken meters within 48 hours.

CPM has also hired street teams to engage and educate parkers when new Pay & Display units are installed in a neighborhood.

"We challenged CPM to do a better job of addressing consumer concerns and improving the system operability," City Revenue Director Bea Reyna-Hickey said. "And we're pleased to report that CPM has substantially improved their performance."

Check out The Expired Meter for even more information and advice about parking, fighting parking tickets and red light tickets in Chicago.