Naperville moving forward with elimination of permit parking at city’s two Metra commuter stations

Naperville moving forward with elimination of permit parking at city’s two Metra commuter stations

All parking spaces in Naperville commuter rail lots will transition to daily fees in the coming months.

The Naperville City Council Tuesday voted to eliminate the parking permit system at the Route 59 and Naperville/Fourth Avenue Metra rail stations and require commuters to pay only for the days they park.

City staff said the move will optimize parking in the lots and provide fair access for all commuters.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic changed the frequency people commute to Chicago, city staff was working to address the problem of spaces not be used in permit lots.

Effective immediately, no new permits will be issued for any Naperville commuter parking lots.

In the coming months, staff will modify the municipal code for council consideration with a goal implementing the daily pay-by-plate fee model in July.

Quarterly permits will be valid until the end of 2023, giving permit holders time to adjust to the new program while freeing up unoccupied permit spaces to be used by other commuters who do not hold a quarterly permit.

Not all residents are on board with the change. Naperville commuter Michael Hackett told the council it took 10 years for his family to get a parking permit in 2008, and he’s not ready for the city to throw out the system.

“It’s a convenience that I enjoy and that I need,” Hackett said.

He doesn’t want to return to the days of juggling schedules and dropping off his car early to ensure he has a parking spot when he catches the train later in the morning.

Councilwoman Theresa Sullivan said she and her husband also performed “crazy calisthenics” when they worked downtown and her kids were in day care.

“It was insanity, and the problem was we didn’t have a parking permit,” said Sullivan, who’s been working to fix the commuter parking problem since joining the council in 2019.

Permit parking is an antiquated system because people shouldn’t have to wait 10 years to receive a permit, she said. The daily fee system should be flexible enough to deal with parking when rail ridership increases.

“This is the first step in giving us the flexibility to make sure that everybody who needs to go or wants to take the train downtown from Naperville now has a chance, instead of ‘The Hunger Games’ for parking that we’ve lived with for years that’s been just a real problem,” Sullivan said.

Jennifer Louden, deputy director of Transportation, Engineering and Development, said the decision was not taken lightly.

“We do understand that there are many people who still rely on these permits and this is presenting a considerable change,” Louden said.

By switching to a pay-by-plate model, commuters won’t have to remember the space they parked in that day. They’ll use their own license plate as an identifier.

Louden said the four machines at Main Station and the five at Route 59 ― as well as the pay-by-phone app and the call-in system through pay-by-phone ― will support the change.

Right now, the city has more parking than it needs for commuters, she said.

When demand does return, the city can look into implementing more technology, such as parking guidance and reservations systems, Louden said.

Staff has yet to determine the cost of daily fees.

Because revenue from parking fees pay for maintenance of the commuter lots, fees will need to cover those costs.

Councilwoman Jennifer Bruzan Taylor said one concern is whether the city will offer discounts to people who commute four or five times a week.

Louden said while the city can’t discount for individuals, one option may be to discount certain days where ridership is lower, such as a Monday or Friday.

Naperville resident Paul Biles, in a letter to the council, called on the city to refund the fees made by those waiting for a parking permit.

He has two deposits for the Kroehler and Burlington/Parkview lots near the main Naperville station.

“Administrative or not, these deposits were made in good faith that permits would be issued when available,” he wrote.

In its Commuter Connection, the city said the wait list fee was a nonrefundable administration fee, not a deposit, therefore it will not be refunded.

Anyone with questions about the transition to daily fee parking can contact the city at 630-420-6100 and choose option 4 or email

Elise Crawley, a Naperville resident with a parking permit for the Route 59 lot, said in a letter to the council that she commutes five days a week.

“Allocating spots on a first-come, first-served basis always advantages the same people whose work schedules start earlier in the day. It is the same as saying we’re always going to pass out leftover cupcakes in alphabetical order,” Crawley said.

The plan imposes increased time, money and convenience costs on those who utilize the parking lot the most and provides only a modest benefit and access to closer spots to those who use it less frequently, she said.

Read More