Fourth & Washington

Stopped. Watched. icon

Parking attendant booths are gone at the Fourth & Washington parking structure. Attendants are on hand telling drivers as they enter about the new automated payment system. Everyone seems to be taking it in stride. [According to the press release from the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority issued today, similar equipment is also being installed at the Liberty Square parking structure. Patrons will pull a ticket, take it with them, pay at an automated pay station, then use their paid ticket to exit the structure. The equipment is being paid for by Republic Parking under a $1.3 million lending arrangement with the DDA.]

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  1. August 28, 2012 at 6:33 pm | permalink

    Will this require plastic payment or is cash accepted by these machines?

    This makes me sad. The attendants humanize the process (literally) and the Fourth and Washington had a long-time attendant who always had a smile and a benediction (“have a blessed day”). Now several lower-wage, lower-skill jobs have been eliminated. To what end?

  2. August 28, 2012 at 8:23 pm | permalink

    Re: “Will this require plastic payment or is cash accepted by these machines?”

    At Fourth & Washington, cash and other forms accepted at the larger machine. A smaller machine is dedicated just to credit cards.

    Re: “To what end?”

    Briefly: an attempt to reduce costs, and reduce wait time in the queue right at the exit. Could also potentially reduce emissions due to idling, as cars in the queue wait for transactions to take place.

  3. By Joe Hood
    August 28, 2012 at 8:47 pm | permalink

    Well, there will probably be more highly skilled people hired to fix the machines.

  4. August 28, 2012 at 10:24 pm | permalink

    @Vivienne: The woman you mention is Yvonne. She is now working at the Maynard structure. Many of our employees have switched from parking at the 4th & Washington structure to the Maynard structure in order to “have a blessed day”. She is truly a delightful person, even if we only interact with her for a minute or so each day.

  5. By Daniel Young
    August 29, 2012 at 12:32 pm | permalink

    These automated ticket machines are not accessible to drivers who have disabilities which make pulling the ticket from the machine difficult. Having attendants stationed at the gate allows those drivers to utilize the parking structures without having to worry about calling for assistance, slowing down motorists queued behind them, dropping a ticket, etc. Without an attendant at the gate or a companion in the car to provide assistance, these machines discourage some drivers with disabilities from accessing these structures, which otherwise are quite convenient. I brought this to the attention of the DDA with the opening of the underground structure on Fifth Ave.

  6. By Daniel Heumann
    August 30, 2012 at 8:35 am | permalink

    I’m really upset about this new system. It eliminates the yellow parking sticker on handicapped parking permits for people who have accessing these automated machines.

  7. By Bob Meyer
    August 30, 2012 at 8:49 am | permalink

    People with disabilities have enough barriers in their lives without the potentially, for some, challenging physical maneuverings required to get theri ticket and pay for it. For those with no physical issues that would make such a “usual transaction” such a challenge, please consider the difficulty and frustration of not being able to reach over and grab your ticket, while aware that there are cars and people behind you that are waiting for you to hurry up and move along.

  8. By Tracy Wright
    August 30, 2012 at 8:58 am | permalink

    Ann Arbor has a culture that embraces diversity. The inability of disabled individuals to park is inconsistent with that culture. Its time to recognize that all persons with physical differences, including disability, are full members of the community and should have access to all services. The ability to park their car seems basic to that equality.

  9. August 30, 2012 at 9:15 am | permalink


    I’m having trouble understanding what you mean when you say that, “It eliminates the yellow parking sticker on handicapped parking permits …” Can you give some additional description?

  10. By anna ercoli schnitzer
    August 30, 2012 at 10:00 am | permalink

    Dave: I know that Daniel H. can answer very well for himself, but I also happen to know that certain drivers with disabilities can get a special yellow sticker from the State to put on their handicapped parking permit, and that sticker allows them free parking. This is what he is referring to. I am wondering whether an electronic system could be set up so that such drivers might be able to obtain the equivalent permit in the form of a type of EZ-Pass. Then, they would be able to exit the structures without hindrance, now that all the payment machines will be automated.

  11. August 30, 2012 at 11:21 am | permalink

    The accessibility of the ticket machines leaves a lot to be desired on many fronts (mobility, visual, financial choice of pay, functionality,…). I am trying to work on behalf of the Ann Arbor CIL and the community to have an answer for people who are unable to independently operate these devices. The problem is multifaceted as the machines themselves “meet ADA minimum requirements”, and are being installed NATIONWIDE. However, when a segment of users cannot use them that means that there are fewer fully accessible parking spaces available in the city. One answer would be to add more accessible spots on the street throughout the community, however another problem that has been repetitively occurring is that the street spaces are blocked by tables, chairs and fences in the summer and by piles of snow in the winter, thus making them inaccessible.

    Additionally, there is not adequate signage located at any of the lots to let someone know of the situation they are encountering nor of who to contact if experiencing a problem. Some people may be able to get in, but then have additional difficulty with operating the mechanisms and not be able to exit with no way to get assistance or to contact anyone to get such assistance from the City, DDA, or Republic Parking.

    Furthermore, if we make all “accessible”spaces “van accessible”, then all the accessible parking spaces would be available to drivers of any type of vehicle, either regular-sized or van-sized, that needed such a space. For the former issues the answer is to measure and paint all accessible spaces as van accessible so any driver with accessibility needs can use any of the spaces. The later problem is not solvable by such a pragmatic answer. It would need to be solved by drivers common courtesy to use the type of accessible space that they need to use and leave other street accessible spaces open for those who may need it.

    An additional problem is that if a community member can choose covered parking in a structure — why can’t we also have FULLY accessible covered parking for community members with disabilities?

    I will again speak with DDA and City Council regarding these choices which if continued will ultimately lead to a segment of our population, not being able to independently participate in community life as freely as their fellow community members. I encourage all community members to voice their concerns with us and to let DDA, City Council, and Republic Parking know the problems we are facing.

    Let ALL people PARK! And, let ALL people GO!

  12. August 30, 2012 at 3:11 pm | permalink

    An update: I have just had a response from Joe Morehouse at the DDA. He has informed me that each automated machine for ticketed parking has a help button that calls to a central desk. There will be a Parking Ambassador assigned with a radio to each parking facility. If an individual needs a assistance to obtain entry to a facility, to pay at a pay station, or to exit a facility, then the Ambassador will be called to assist the individual. He stated that this is already policy. He states that the wait time shouldn’t be more than a couple of minutes. This will work for those who can push the call button and for the community that can be patient and wait behind the individual needing assistance. This will still not work for everyone. He stated for those this will not work for should use street parking. When street parking. I encourage people to share their experiences both positive ones and negative ones with the policy and with the structures. At this point I did not hear any movement toward additional signage on the exterior of lots. I appreciated the reply from Joe. I will again state our community is only whole with the inclusion of ALL of us. As well a reminder to the community that the ADA is the MINUIMUM standard, we can always go above and beyond the ADA to construct facilities and create polices that are BEST PRACTICES.

  13. August 30, 2012 at 5:58 pm | permalink

    A question was asked of me following the last update:
    Does that mean no free parking with the yellow sticker too?
    Sorry for not including that in the earlier message. If you have a yellow sticker from the state on your accessible permit, yes you will still be able to use parking at no cost as you have before. You will need to go to the pay station and call for assistance to have the Parking Ambassador verify you have the appropriate information on your accessible permit and then they will process the validation for you and if you need the assistance to exit they will do that too.