Denver Government

Denver Parking Meter Rates About to Double

Double the price in January.
Double the price in January. Catie Cheshire
Denver’s parking meter rates are about to double, from $1 per hour to $2.

According to the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, the January 2022 price hike will align Denver with cities of a similar size and also help adjust for inflation. “We are, finally, after several decades, really starting to match the value of the asset of the curbside space to the value that people pay in the meter,” says Cindy Patton, senior director of operations at DOTI.

The department expects to generate an additional $9.5 million annually by raising meter prices; it plans to put that money toward safety and mobility improvements, with 40 percent going to transit projects, 20 percent going to sidewalks, 20 percent going to new bicycle infrastructure and 20 percent going toward Vision Zero, the city’s initiative to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030.

The department hopes to announce some projects by next summer, and will base them on feedback from residents. “We do have a really strong tradition of public outreach, and a lot of the projects have already been discussed or prioritized as part of efforts that we've done publicly,” says Patton.

DOTI will also update the city's 6,200 parking meters in 2022; most of the updates will be to meter technology rather than look or function. “The majority of people won't really probably notice, which is great,” says Alyssa Alt, who manages the curbside parking team in DOTI’s transportation operations division.

One thing that people might notice is that it will be easier to pay meters. Alt says that the department will enable Apple Pay on meters and continue to strengthen the Pay by Phone app that the city adopted last February.

Eleven percent of meter transactions are already conducted through Pay by Phone, and Patton is optimistic that more people will adopt this easy, touchless option that lets people increase their parking time remotely — as long as they don’t exceed the limit for that particular meter.

In some locations, starting with Cherry Creek North, the department will swap single-space meters with multi-space meters to help declutter the curbside. The same payment options will be available.

The last time Denver’s meters were updated was 2010. While DOTI stretched the life span of those meters with new technology, Alt says that's a long time to go between updates.

Back in 2010, the meters were considered “smart” because they took credit-card payments. The city also tried a small pilot project in LoDo, testing ground sensors that would track when cars were parked in metered spots and could zero out the meter when the car left so that no time carried over to the next person. But the department quickly realized that those ground sensors weren’t worth adopting on a broader basis.

“It was very expensive,” Patton recalls. “The technology was really unreliable at the time, and we also tended to pull them up when we paved streets and had to start all over again.” None of those ground sensors function today.

While parking is always in flux in the city because of construction and transit projects, DOTI says that the number of meters hasn't changed significantly over the past few years. Some parts of downtown have reduced metered parking because of new bikeways and the Temporary Patio Expansion project, while the completion of new buildings and other construction added parking back to the area.

“There are meters that come and go from all parts of the city due to construction, due to other sorts of community uses,” Alt says. “We've had expansions and bike lanes and transit lanes that are the highest and best use of our curbside so it's not always just for parking, but I think things have actually stayed pretty steady.”

In addition to the meter update, DOTI is also looking into revising residential parking programs next year.
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Catie Cheshire is Westword's editorial fellow. After getting her undergraduate degree at Regis University, she went to Arizona State University for a master's degree. She missed everything about Denver -- from the less-intense sun to the food, the scenery and even the bus system. Now she's reunited with Denver and writing news for Westword.
Contact: Catie Cheshire