Denver parking meter rates double as part of city’s plan to generate extra revenue

Parking meter rates increased in Denver, Colorado on Monday for the first time in two decades, doubling from $1 to $2 per hour. The change came as part of the city mayor’s 2022 budget plan in order to generate an additional amount of revenue for improvements. 

The last time parking meter rates were raised in Denver was in 2002 when they increased to $1.50. They were soon lowered back to $1 in 2003 by the mayor at the time, John Hickenlooper.

Current Mayor Michael Hancock’s 2022 budget plan incorporated the new parking rate of $2 per hour, which was slated to generate an additional $9.5 million annually. According to the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, that extra revenue will go toward safety and mobility improvements in the city.

Of the $9.5 million in increased revenue, Vanessa Lacayo with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure said around 40 percent will be dedicated to transit projects and 20 percent each will go toward constructing bicycle infrastructure, constructing and repairing sidewalks, and safety projects that support Denver’s Vision Zero, which is an initiative to eliminate all traffic deaths and serious injuries by the year 2030.

She added that the $2 rate makes Denver more comparable to cities of similar size. Hourly rates in Seattle, Chicago, Austin, Salt Lake City, and Minneapolis are between $2 and $2.75 in downtown areas. 

Some have made criticisms of the rate increase, saying it will make visiting downtown locations less affordable. But city officials defended the decision, saying rates since 2002 for private on- and off-street parking have doubled.

“As a result, we are seeing more and more people meter hop versus using them for short stops as they are intended – making finding on-street parking more difficult,” said Lacayo.

Meters will also be updated throughout the city this year, as the work is scheduled to be completed by spring. New meters will look and function similarly to current meters, but they will be equipped with new payment options including PayByPhone, credit cards, and coins. 




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