CARTA Raises Downtown Parking Rates To $1.50 Per Hour; Agency To Work With Lookout Mountain On Lost Fees

  • Thursday, September 21, 2023
  • Hannah Campbell

The CARTA Board of Directors voted unanimously Thursday to raise all on-street parking meter rates citywide to $1.50 per hour, effective Oct. 1.

Meter rates had remained at $1 per hour since the last rate hike in 2015.

Board member Corey Evatt, who led the rate study with CARTA staff, said the market rate for cities Chattanooga’s size is $1.72. The study looked at 19 cities including Knoxville, Savannah, Ga., and St. Louis, Mo.

The new citywide rate is a starting point. Mr. Evatt said further study will allow CARTA to target busy zones for rates as high as $2 per hour, a cap authorized by City Council. He said CARTA will use the parking payment app Parkmobile to raise rates by day of the week or time of day.

“This gives us breathing room to visit that,” Mr. Evatt said.

Proceeds from meters fund CARTA-owned parking lots and shuttles only.

Also effective Oct. 1, CARTA will begin charging for on-street parking along West Main Street from Chestnut Street. Payment for these 200 spots is through Parkmobile or you can also scan the barcode and pay through a different app.only.


After a close vote in August that denied Lookout Mountain, Tn., a 50-cent fee added to Incline tickets, the CARTA board of directors agreed in September to revisit ways to help the town recoup about $120,000 in annual revenue lost when CARTA redirected all Incline ticket sales and parking to St. Elmo.

“The board has made a decision which is clear,” said Board Chair Johan de Neysschen, but that “we depend on Lookout Mountain.”

At the town’s September commission meeting, commissioners said they would examine the Incline’s status as a provider of transportation, which exempts it from Lookout Mountain property taxes. It was stated that the Incline is more accurately classified a tourist attraction.

“The money that we lost, they gained,” Lookout Mountain Mayor Walker Jones said at the town meeting.

Commissioners had also discussed disembarkation fees, impact fees or turnstiles on the town-owned sidewalks.

Mr. de Neysschen stressed finding an amenable solution to avoid “a combative legal minefield.”


Mr. de Neysschen said that CARTA and Dr. Mina Sartipi of UTC are exploring hybrid public transit together that will use smaller vehicles like minivans to bring people in from the city’s outer extremities and less-populated neighborhoods to CARTA’s effective fixed routes. The study also aims to name a downtown bus hub.

UTC and CARTA are partners in the Chattanooga Smart City Collaborative, which is working with the U.S. Department of Transportation to integrate more electric vehicles into the city’s overall “mobility,” including public transit.

Mr. de Neysschen said CARTA will also apply for a grant specific to autonomously enabled vehicles.

“Is this a feasible thing for us to pursue or not?” he asked. “I really want to get the ball rolling on this.”

Representatives from Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly’s office attending the board meeting agreed to roll in findings of the city’s near-complete “microtransit” study led by Jarrett Walker, a public transit design and policy consultant.

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