CARTA board unanimously increases Chattanooga’s downtown on-street parking rates

Staff photo by Olivia Ross / Maia Shields pays for parking at a meter on Wednesday.

This story was updated at 11:55 a.m. to correct the year of the last on-street parking rate increase.

The CARTA board of directors by an 8-0 vote during the panel's monthly meeting Thursday increased downtown Chattanooga's on-street parking rates to $1.50 per hour.

The board is an 11-member body. Board Vice Chair Evann Freeman and board members Arcie Reeves and Daniela Peterson were not present for the meeting.

The rate increase, effective Oct. 1, is up from the current $1 an hour rate. According to a presentation from board member Corey Evatt, the new rate is projected to increase 2022's parking revenue of $1.7 million to $2.7 million over the next year.

CARTA directors may want to increase rates again in the future, board member Stephen Culp said.

"We had a lot of discussions and spent a lot of time on this. I think the main virtue of this is that we're getting moving. And, of course, as we've got time after we start moving to look at how we can adjust these things," Culp said during the meeting. "I have a question about — as we look at other revenue sources — how low this fruit is hanging versus other sources. And how much we may be required to revisit this in the future depending on the demands of this organization."

There are no plans to increase rates past $1.50 per hour, CARTA interim Executive Director Jeff Smith said in an interview after the meeting.

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Brent Matthews, director of parking and special projects for the Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority, said during the meeting that it's the first increase since 2015. That increase was from 75 cents an hour to $1.

"Eight years ago? It's probably due," board Chair Johan de Nysschen said during the meeting. "At least from that perspective, it seem justified."

The new $1.50 rate is below the $1.72 average among other cities in the region, according to Evatt's presentation.

On-street hourly parking rates in other cities

— Knoxville: $1.50.

— Nashville: $2.25.

— Lexington, Kentucky: $1.50.

— Louisville, Kentucky: $2.

— Covington, Kentucky: $1.50.

— Charleston, South Carolina: $2.

— Savannah, Georgia: $2.

— Macon, Georgia: $1.25.

— Winston-Salem, North Carolina: $1.50.

— Average: $1.72.

Source: Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority

At Thursday's meeting, the board considered three different models for hourly rate increases for the more than 2,500 on-street spaces CARTA oversees.

The model Evatt called the aggressive approach would have increased on-street rates to $2 per hour. A tiered approach would have increased it to $2 per hour for some spaces and $1.50 per hour for others. The board ultimately went with the incremental approach of a $1.50 rate for all spaces.

The Chattanooga City Council has given CARTA, which also serves as the Chattanooga Parking Authority, the power to increase parking rates up to $2 per hour, according to the city's code of ordinances.

Any proceeds from fees can only be used for parking regulation enforcement, parking safety precautions, installation and maintenance of parking equipment, and operation of the downtown shuttle service, the ordinance says.

"Escalating immediately up to that $2 limit that was preauthorized did seem to be a bit of a pill to swallow, which even for me personally, my favorite Taco Bell dollar menu item went up recently," Evatt said in an interview after the meeting. "I'm not unaffected by inflation. We were cognizant of what this would do to folks that park downtown, and we want to make sure people continue to come downtown and participate in transit, and if we price anyone out, parking-wise, then we take away potential transit customers."

(READ MORE: With streets built mostly for cars, some want Chattanooga to make way for pedestrians)

De Nysschen said the board may want to consider additional changes to rates in the future, citing the tiered approach as a possibility.

"Your proposal is for a more gradual escalation, giving us time to evaluate the feasibility of maybe differentiating rate structures in the different parts of the city, different times of day," de Nysschen said.

Rates for downtown's on-street parking starting Oct. 1

— 10 minutes: 25 cents.

— 20 minutes: 50 cents.

— 30 minutes: 75 cents.

— 40 minutes: $1.

— 1 hour: $1.50.

— 80 minutes: $2.

— 100 minutes: $2.50.

— 2 hours: $3.

Source: Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority

The CARTA board's decision Thursday does not affect rates for off-street parking.

The maximum parking time allowed on-street is two hours. Rates are enforced 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

Also effective Oct. 1, residents can begin using their mobile devices to pay for on-street parking on Main Street downtown west of Market Street. Currently, residents can only pay by mobile on Main Street east of that intersection, Matthews said in an interview after the meeting.

No public comments were made from residents concerning the rate increase.

Residents are allowed to speak at CARTA's monthly meetings. An individual speaker, however, is not allowed to appear before the board more than two times during any consecutive four-month period, and no more than three people can speak on any one topic during a meeting, according to a resolution passed by the CARTA board in 2018.

Contact Ben Sessoms at or 423-757-6354.