Sunday, March 09, 2008

Best Kept Secret?

...Or am I just the last goob on the face of the earth to find out about these things?

Cash keys for parking meters. Good for use in Urbana, Campus, and Champaign parking meters. You can own one for $17.50 through public works (see here for more details), and then choose how much of a cash balance to keep on it. (Not refillable via internet. Sorry folks, you have to go back to the parking offices when these run out of moolah!)

Champaign's New Parking Costs: Grumble, grumble. Although I can see that these new parking meters will bring in revenue for our fair city, I always found the inexpensive parking (25 cents/hr, free after 5:00 and on all weekends) to be charming, and a welcoming perk to hanging out downtown.

Most of the businesses there are those that invite you to stay for hours: coffee shops to study in, tons of outdoor cafes, bars to frequent, and a few fine dining establishments, to linger over fantastic dinners.

Alas, 75 cents an hour now, and a 2-hour time limit! Aurgh! 2 hours? That two-hour time limit has changed the message from "Welcome to downtown!" to "Welcome to downtown. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out."

One just has to bite the bullet and follow the rules. These cash keys are extremely convenient if you're a debit-card carrying down-townie such as myself. When the 75-cents/hour parking costs kicked in, the change in my ashtray mysteriously dwindled to nothing but pennies in the blink of an eye.

Clint picked one of these up for me, and I just lurrrrrrrve it. Poke it into the meter, it gives you a balance. Once more, and it subtracts a quarter from that balance, and puts 20 minutes on the clock.

It's much easier than hoarding quarters, but you still have to vamoose by 7 p.m., if you arrive downtown at 5.

Enjoy your dinner.


  1. I have never heard of such a marvel, but then again, there isn't a parking meter within 100 kilometers of my house. :)

    And may I just say, I love the keychain!

  2. My sister uses one all the time because she parks on campus and loves it. I am secretly glad about the price increase if it encourages people to walk or bike to downtown (what I usually do), but as a friend pointed out the 2 hour limit is going to hurt many businesses. How are people going to eat dinner and go to a movie? Move the car? Champaign is not thinking this through, in my opinion. I hope they don't kill the newly thriving downtown with this.

  3. That's neat, I agree though that 2 hours is tough. The new thing here is a pay station, where you pay with credit card or cash for the time you want and leave the receipt on the dashboard. No meters! It's much better for me because I often forget the quarters!

  4. Wendy: That's how we do it in Chicago, if we're lucky enough to find a lot with some space.

  5. I hate to tell you, but I've had one for the last 7 years.

  6. I've been using lowly quarters, when this "new-fangled" doo-dad has been around for almost a decade?!!

    Crap. What other cool gadgets am I missing out on?!!

  7. How cool. I had no idea those existed...

  8. We don't have those here but this is what I do.

    I take the parking ticket, lol

    It's cheaper and easier than to run out all night feeding the meter and interrupting what ever I'm doing.

    AND, once there is a ticket on my car ... I'm good to go all night. Depending on the city, they are usually $5 or $7 vs parking garage at $10

  9. StFarmer12:20 PM


    We even have running water and indoor toilets over here in Blm/Normal. :)

  10. StFarmer12:30 PM

    That Nancy is a thinker!

    As a traffic safety specialist I know that laws without enforcement and enforcement without consequences are not effective. Obviously, Nancy has discovered that the consequence of a parking violation is not severe enough.

    Same thing with that pesky 65 mph speed limit in Illinois. When I'm in a hurry, $75 is not enough to stop me from speeding. Now the points on the license is a different matter!

  11. Talk about being out of it; I didn't even know the rate had gone up. And then the time limit. That blows!

  12. Troy and I say luuuurve all the time. Does yours come from Celine Dion's accent, too?


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