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Parking downtown today?

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Parking ambassador Gregory Alexander demonstrates new equipment that will be used to write tickets. Photo by Angela Lewis/Times Free Press Parking ambassador Gregory Alexander demonstrates new equipment that will be used to write tickets. Photo by Angela Lewis/Times Free Press

CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- If you're a frequent visitor to downtown Chattanooga you can expect some changes to parking enforcement. Starting Monday, CARTA will be in charge of handling all parking violations.

The new Chattanooga Parking Authority will be tougher on enforcing parking rules, especially on paying the meter and not feeding the meter.

"It should just be a smooth transition from what the police were doing in the previous years," says Jim Bowen.

Bowen is the Director of Special Projects for CARTA.

The transit authority has contracted out with Republic Parking to help run the new Chattanooga Parking Authority.

Ten parking 'ambassadors' will now patrol the streets.

"They'll be on foot, walking beats. So it'll be a little different than the police service technicians who drove around in the little cars," he says.

Bowen says the goal is to make parking more efficient.

With Chattanooga being a tourist destination, he says it's important to abide by the two hour parking limit and that people who work downtown don't feed the meter and take up prime spots.

"The concept is to have meters open when people want to come to use those restaurants," says Bowen.

"I know that tourism is kind of what your city thrives on and we need that to bring money in and build our economy," says Michelle Beene.

Beene works downtown. She says she's excited to hear part of the money collected from the tickets will go to upgrading the meters. Some will have the option of paying with a debit or credit card.

"A lot of them are malfunctioning or, you know, the time limit isn't as long as it says it is, and so it's actually a really big hassle," she says.

Bowen says, overall, there will be no major changes to the rules, just who's enforcing them.

"No one likes to get a ticket, but we're going to do it in a friendly manner, if there is such a thing."

Bowen says he's already heard concerns about cars getting booted.

He says that will only happen in extreme cases if you have three unpaid tickets and refuse to pay.

Downtown workers will have the option of paying a monthly fee to park in certain lots and ride a free shuttle seven days a week.

The new parking authority office is located at Shuttlepark South on Market Street.

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