The Missoula Parking Commission has heard a steady stream of complaints since it replaced the old coin operated system with a new LUKE system, which can also take credit cards. People have complained about having to memorize their driver’s license number and, that the machines won’t take quarters properly. According to Interim Parking Director Geoff Badenoch, the parking commission has plans underway to make the system easier.
“It’s the first major change in parking that has happened in downtown Missoula in almost 70 years, we’re going to have to work with downtown businesses to understand how we can make this better,” Badenoch said. “We have a couple of things in the works that we are looking at now that will make things for customers more convenient, they weren’t part of our original roll out, because they were so new, there is so much that people have to learn about it, we didn’t want to give them a fire hose of information on how to do things, we are trying to trickle it out so people can build on what they know.”
Some downtown businesses have complained that the new meters have slowed business and disrupted sales, but Badenoch says that no studies have been done to see if this is true in general, because the system is so new. Badenoch says there is no way the city will go back to the old system.
“That is not going to happen,” Badenoch said. “We’ve removed all those meters, they are gone. Our staff has chopped off the meter poles and they are not coming back. So the commitment we have made to this new system is that, this is the system Missoula has now, and we are going to have to work to make it work.”
Badenoch says some people are “hacking” the system, and instead of trying to memorize their license plate number are taking a photo of their license plate with their smart phone. He also said that some of the machines may have failed to take quarters because of the cold weather freezing moisture inside the new machines, but that the problem is easy to fix if people report their experiences to the parking commission.
Badenoch would not specify what new measures are being considered to make downtown parking easier, because they are still looking at the costs of those measures and will reveal them in the next few months.