Drivers parking on city streets in New Haven are required to feed the meter until 9 p.m.
The city said it would bring in extra money and free up space.
"The whole time I'm thinking about is the meter running, am I going to have to put more money in it," said Samantha Higgins, of Stratford. "Yeah, it's pretty annoying."
A year ago, city officials extended its meter hours, meaning no more free parking until after 9 p.m.
"If you want to go out and have dinner with your wife or something. You gotta jump up from the table. You can't stay there for two hours and have a nice time," said Gary Pallman, of Hamden. "At least once during your meal, somebody's gotta get up and feed that thing. Or you're going to end up with one of these because they're going well into the night to collect their funds."
It's been a year since the change to the extended meter hours and new parking rules, so Eyewitness News turned to the city to find out what type of impact on downtown the rules have made in the first year.
"What we're seeing is more compliance, and that's what I like because more compliance actually means less parking tickets," said Jim Travers of New Haven Transportation, Traffic and Parking.
When parking was free, instead of using lots or garages, employees of downtown businesses and residents living in the area would snatch up the spaces, leaving fewer spots for customers, according to Travers.
"In the early evening we saw spots fill up rather quickly at 7 p.m.," Travers said. "That created a challenge with the perception that there was no available parking downtown."
The idea was that this program would cause turnover and free up more spaces. Last spring, city officials claimed the extra hours would bring in anywhere from $300,000 to $400,000 a year.
"What we're really seeing is that the extended hours bring in about 30 percent of the revenue that's collected throughout the course of the day," Travers said. "So we're seeing probably in excess of that, probably somewhere in the vicinity of $800,000 of additional revenue to the city."
As for its impact on downtown, city officials said there were challenges at first, but people are getting used to it, including 55 percent that now pay with a credit card.
As for continuously feeding the meter, there's no two-hour time limit after 5 p.m., meaning you could technically pay all the way up till 9 p.m. and not worry.
"You have so many new restaurants, so many new stores, so many new businesses, you want to encourage people to come downtown," said Pallman, who does not agree with the new parking system. "But then after 6, 7 o'clock, you're still whacking them for money."
Drivers better get used to it because city officials said the extended metered hours are working and not going away.
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