Most people really like Salt Lake City’s curbside digital parking system and its blue kiosks, according to a new survey by the Downtown Alliance business group.
That may come as a surprise to some who have heard a cacophony of complaints about the high-tech gadgets that melted down in the July heat and don’t have lighted keypads for use in darker months.
But results of the survey are quite convincing, according to Jason Mathis, executive director of the Downtown Alliance. The survey cost $10,000 and was funded through a grant from Salt Lake City as part of a $100,000 parking-education campaign. The $4.5 million system went online in spring 2012.
The results are based on 406 interviews with residents of Salt Lake and Davis counties and carry a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent, Mathis said.
About 70 percent of the respondents said the meters were easy or very easy to use, according to the survey by Richter7 and Lighthouse Research.
Most respondents said they liked using credit cards to pay the $2 per hour rate that is enforced from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The kiosks also accept coins and are capable of accepting payment through a smartphone app.
About 18 percent of respondents said the meters were too difficult to use. Those people said the meter instructions were unclear, they didn’t like locating the parking stall number and the meters were difficult to use in general.
Of those respondents who had not visited downtown in the past 12 months, only 6 percent cited parking as the reason.
A majority of respondents said they preferred to park in private parking lots or garages open to the public, rather than park curbside with a two-hour limit, according to the survey.
There are about 30,000 private parking stalls downtown, compared to about 3,000 metered curbside slots.
The survey revealed that many visitors park at the City Creek Center and The Gateway, and use TRAX to move around downtown.
“If you are going to be somewhere for more than two hours, private garages and lots are a better option,” Mathis said. “On-street parking is meant for quicker stops.”
Although motorists have complained about the extension of paid parking from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Mathis said most downtown merchants and restaurant owners support the new hours. When enforcement was limited to 6 p.m., many downtown parking stalls were hoarded by employees for the duration of the evening.
“By extending the hours until 8 p.m.,” Mathis said, “those spaces are opened one or two more times.”
Robin Hutcheson, Salt Lake City director of transportation, said the new system “has been a lot for our public to take in.” But, she added, motorists are increasingly finding that parking downtown is not an obstacle and that curbside parking rates are priced competitively with private lots.
“We’ve been listening to [public] feedback,” Hutcheson said. “We want to ensure people coming downtown have a good experience.”
Downtown parking website
Visit parkingslc.com for locations of private lots and garages.