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Posted on Fri, Aug 17, 2012 : 4:55 p.m.

Parking garage signs showing available spaces going dark for a while

By Ben Freed


The sign in front of the parking garage at Fourth Avenue and William Street has already gone dark.

Ben Freed |

“Guess and check” will be the primary method for determining how full parking structures in Ann Arbor are through the end of August.

The software used by the Downtown Development Authority and contractor Republic Parking to manage downtown parking structures is being upgraded. During the installation and testing of the new software, the electronic signs outside the parking structures that indicate how many free spaces are available will be blank, the DDA said in a press release Friday. The space counts available on the DDA website will also be unavailable during this time.

All other functions of the parking garages, including the internal count system will operate as normal, and Republic Parking does not anticipate any disruptions in service during the transition period.

Ben Freed covers business for Reach him at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2



Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 1:29 p.m.

I still cannot understand charging us to park. It's the same as Highway Robbery. Most of the other local communities do not charge, Brighton, Whitmore Lake, Chelsae etc.!


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 10:03 p.m.

Do you think A2 has more people coming to it for various entertainment and activities then any of the cities you listed?


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 8:01 p.m.

While they are at it, perhaps they can fix the pay station in the new parking garage. Yesterday it refused my credit card repeadly. "Help" button told me to take my car to the cashier but, by that time, there was a backup behind me requiring more help. The cashier used my credit card without a problem and dismissed me with "the machine is finicky" statement that might as well have been "so what?".


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 7:06 p.m.

Can you get your money back if there's no spaces?


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 8:50 p.m.

Just email the mayor.


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 4:24 p.m.

Are there *REALLY* 20 comments on an article about a software upgrade for a parking lot? You guys really have a lot of time on your hands don't you?


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 1:31 p.m.

The really sad part, I read them all!


Sun, Aug 19, 2012 : 3:43 a.m.

And full of Ann Arbor bitterness and nasty attitudes, right on schedule.


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 3:15 p.m.

"simply amazed" informs us this morning, 16 hours after the article appeared: "Just software? Not. Have you seen the big black 'concession looking' machines still wrapped in plastic situated in the structures? This 'software' update is for the installation of machines to pay for your parking." I assume this is true. But the question then arises: how on earth did manage to publish an article that omitted this information. You'd think it was an obvious question, why would a little upgrade to simple software take two weeks to upgrade? Maybe that's just's low standards? And the questions remain: why does this take a full two weeks? why just now, with the student population returning to Ann Arbor?

Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 2:33 p.m.

Republic Parking is reportedly pushing the city to place pay stations in some structures (all structures?) and pull the booths out....displacing cashiers from their jobs. This has been a very secretive process not discussed with the public. Anticipate long lines while leaving parking structures as customers fiddle with their tickets/credit cards etc.....trying to feed them into the exit-validators. This pay station system could have easily been implemented without pulling out the cashier booths....and the cashiers could be handed the tickets and quickly feed them into the exit -validators....inside the booths....the right way. This booth validation method actually would speed-up downtown parking.....but greed seems to have won out in the frenzy to cut jobs and replace human beings with pay machines. The dehumanization of downtown parking in Ann Arbor has begun.....have a problem? to the machine, and then back-up that vehicle and wait.


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 4:45 p.m.

Confused.... The article said nothing about paystations or verlidaters.

Angry Moderate

Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 11:16 p.m.

Right...because the employees at parking structures are faster than machines.


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 1:50 p.m.

Why was this not done during the summer? Waiting until students come back and football season to start. Real smart Republic Parking!!!!

Some Guy in 734

Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 7:43 p.m.

It *is* being done in the summer. The first home game isn't until September 8, and I have yet to see a Republic structure play any significant role during move-in, which doesn't start until August 28.

simply amazed

Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 1:10 p.m.

Just software? Not. Have you seen the big black 'concession looking' machines still wrapped in plastic situated in the structures? This 'software' update is for the installation of machines to pay for your parking. The attendants that we see everyday are being replaced. I for one will be sorry to see that the same people we see every morning and every evening for years will be replaced.


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 1:03 p.m.

It really is amazing how much hate folks stand ready to spew about something they know so little about. Perhaps why that, at his point, the powers that be get that this comments sections means little and they are free to ignore it because it is not reflective of what actually happens at the ballot box. Still, it would probably help those with their fingers ever at the ready on the post-my-underlying-anger-against-the-world-triggers if the reporters of this fine "paper" asked the obvious questions when presented, here to wit: why two weeks?


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 12:49 p.m.

The DDA once again demonstrates their exquisite project management and planning skills. So they will be out of service for two weeks? The "Grand Opening" must be next week then.


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 12:42 p.m.

So, we will have to PAY to find out there is no parking space available? And argue with the gate staff on whether or not there was a space available? And his/her opinion will always be right???


Sun, Aug 19, 2012 : 5:10 a.m.

the 3rd paragraph specifically states, "All other functions of the parking garages, including the internal count system will operate as normal," I was downtown last night and although you don't know the total # of spaces available, the system will not allow you to take a ticket if the garage is full.

Angry Moderate

Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 11:14 p.m.

What a nightmare. There are no parking structures anywhere in the world that work fine without a screen on the outside showing the number of available spaces. Ann Arbor will not be able to deal with this injustice for 2 whole weeks.


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 11:50 a.m.

Most software upgrades are done in a test environment and then go live at 3 or 4 AM....

Basic Bob

Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 11:50 a.m.

They could bench test the software before they install it. Just like they do when they upgrade prison access systems (you didn't think they just unlocked the gates for two weeks, did you?)


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 2:51 a.m.

With a 2 week process I'm expecting a new system that points us in the direction of the open spaces. Also, I want an equivalent parking app to the one Fred Posner made which the DDA shut down in 2009.

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 2:20 a.m.

so if we cant see the signs that ALWAYS read 387 empty spaces at EVERY parking structure on every block we will believe the boondoggle structure by library is necessary!


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 3:52 p.m.

I beg to differ, I've actually visited several times and had the number of open spaces in the lower 10s of spaces available.


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 1:58 a.m.

I'm not sure how this can be that complicated and how it can be buggy. Spots available = Total spots - entries + exits


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 1:53 a.m.

Is it really going to take to the end of August to upgrade parking-garage software that counts cars going in and out and displays the sum on a couple of electronic displays plus a website? Does the software do anything more than this ? In contrast, I understood that it took only four days to give the Mars rover Curiosity a "brain transplant" -- replacing the software that controlled the vehicle on its 350 million mile voyage from Earth to Mars with the software that will control it as it moves around the surface of Mars, runs a variety of complex scientific experiments, and send the data back to earth. And NASA accomplished this from a distance of more than 150 million miles. Granted, NASA's budget and talent pool are quite a bit larger than DDA's. But still. Two weeks?? Somebody's not trying?


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 1:12 a.m.

What class of software takes 2 weeks to update? Is AA their beta site? And re: "Republic Parking does not anticipate any disruptions in service during the transition period" - is the expected volume low enough that there will not be people circling up and down the ramps in search of a possibly non-existent space - which will probably present some 'disruptions?'


Sun, Aug 19, 2012 : 1:13 a.m.

Yes johnnya2, I read it. And America won WWII and probably launched the Apollo program w/o digital counters on the garages. "internal count system will operate as normal" is so reassuring after someone has pulled into the garage. And while I am not so wise, software upgrades are important to me as I work for a software company that performs upgrades monthly (sometimes more often) to subsets of over 3000 Windows and Linux servers in EAGAN Minnesota between 10:00 PM ET to 06:00 AM.


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 1:49 p.m.

I guess you did not have time to read the article? "All other functions of the parking garages, including the internal count system will operate as normal" Do you understand that parking garages operated for decades without software systems and people did not circle for non-existent spaces anymore than they currently do on surface lots or street meter parking. It's two weeks, get over yourself. Maybe in YOUR world upgrading software is unimportant. Why not tell us oh "wise one". When would be the time to do this upgrade? During art fair or top of the park? In the dead of winter, when more cars are out since fewer people will be walking? As an added note, student move in really does not have ANYTHING to do with parking garages. I have yet to see parents parking in the garages to drop their kids off.


Fri, Aug 17, 2012 : 11 p.m.

Good timing with the start of the fall semester and football season.


Fri, Aug 17, 2012 : 10:43 p.m.

How exciting, the Parking Garage software doesn't work! Who is being fired?

Middle America

Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 9:24 a.m.

Why would someone get fired because of a software update?


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 2:54 a.m.

And which executive will be getting the 5-figure bonus?