TV-6 Investigates: Complaints dog Davenport parking pay system

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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - Davenport's new parking garage payment system has been up and running since January and has encountered some growing pains. Drivers have complained about confusing signs, confusing billing, and $30 parking citations.

The City has spent close to $350,000 upgrading its parking payment system, because the old system was falling apart. Gone are the gates, in place, are kiosks and a mobile app. City records show people parking in the ramps have been confused and the City is trying to finish working out the bugs.

On a rainy Saturday before a symphony concert, drivers coming into Davenport's parking ramps paused at the entrances. Some seemed a little unsure what to do.

Customer Stacy Krones said she doesn't park downtown often, "Not too often no, I don't work downtown so we only come down for events."

She found one of the parking kiosks. She said she only ran into one hiccup.

"After I parked I had to run back to the car and snap a photo of my license plate with my cell phone because I don't have it memorized but otherwise I was good to go," said Krones.

City records show there's been some confusion. In parking citation appeals drivers said they couldn't find the kiosks, or weren't sure they were required to pay. Public Works Director Nicole Gleason said the City's been trying to address the issues.

"Some of it is just historical, some people use the ramps very infrequently, maybe just one or two events per year," said Gleason.

Gleason said city staffers handed out courtesy cards in the garages during the first six weeks of the transition, as well as during the first six events at the Adler Theater.

Gleason said, "Some of the feedback is a little, the signs were confusing, so as a result in the past couple of weeks we've put all these signs up."

She said the City added cardboard signs at the entrances, telling people they have to pay at all hours. The City taped more signs on doors directing people where to find a kiosk. The City also moved some kiosks, one at the top of the skywalk is now in the Midamerican Energy building, and is considering installing up to five more.

Gleason said, "There's probably a few places that would benefit from having a few more pay stations and we are trying to see if we can get any extra money."

Krones likes the new system. She's happy the City got rid of the old one.

"You have to climb out the car window, and lean over to try and get the ticket out of the thing, dig through your purse and hope you have cash," said Krones.

Gleason said one issue folks have been having is entering their license plate numbers with a space on the machine. Don't do that, because the City's license plate readers don't recognize the spaces. Also, payment is required 24-7-365. That's a big change from the past.

The City decided to upgrade to the new system because it cost half of the estimated price to repair the old one. The City said the new system also allows it to consistently charge for parking. In the past, when a cashier was sick, the parking gates were raised and folks parked for free.