Philadelphia Parking Authority
The Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) in Pennsylvania serves the parking needs of the sixth-most populous U.S. city, with more than 1.5 million residents. The PPA—which has achieved an Accredited Parking Organization with Distinction designation—recently developed a three-year strategic plan, with the goal to advance economic development and improve quality of life while reducing the environmental impacts of single-occupant vehicle use.
The PPA is dedicated to implementing the latest parking, transportation, and mobility technologies to enhance user experience and improve efficiency for employees. In 2017, the PPA implemented its new mobile parking payment app, meterUP, which has transformed how residents and visitors interact with parking. Users can pay for parking with their smartphone, which notifies them before their session expires. They can also end their sessions early and receive a refund for unused time.
The PPA recently updated its towing system, allowing for complete automation of the towing process through handheld devices. The devices can send assignments directly to tow truck drivers, while parking enforcement officers (PEOs) can request a tow. This system has helped improve the jobs of PEOs and tow truck drivers, while creating a more safe and efficient process.
To provide a paradigm shift to the meaning of enforcement, PEOs now provide drivers with written reminders when their vehicle registrations expire (given in the first 15 days of the month). This allows the public to see officers from a different perspective and provides education, not punitive action, with the goal of improving public safety.
PPA Executive Director Scott Petri has created a podcast aimed at informing the community of the PPA’s efforts. He interviews employees about PPA initiatives so the public can better understand projects, programs, and technology.
The PPA has worked with the city to implement its Sustainability Action Plan, focusing on enhanced recycling; reducing waste, energy, and emissions; and conserving water. The PPA has implemented sustainability initiatives throughout its facilities and management procedures, including using low-emitting and fuel-efficient fleet vehicles, energy-efficient lighting and HVAC systems, and halon-free fire suppression systems. It has also implemented parking guidance systems, electric-vehicle charging stations, tire inflation stations, and off-street bike racks. The PPA is also working with Philadelphia’s regional transit agency, SEPTA, to address congestion along bus routes. PEOs conduct targeted enforcement in bus lanes to reduce traffic delays, congestion, and the resulting emissions.
The PPA is responsible for a number of unique tasks in Philadelphia that are not typically the responsibility of municipal parking authorities. These revolve mostly around community safety. The city participates in the Vision Zero Network, an international initiative aimed at reducing the number of injuries and deaths from traffic collisions each year.
The PPA takes part by managing red-light and speed-camera enforcement, identifying the most dangerous intersections, installing signage, and conducting community outreach to encourage traffic calming. This initiative has helped modify the city’s curb behavior and resulted in a significant drop in violations at these locations. In addition, the PPA supports bicycle mobility and collaborates with the local Bicycle Coalition. In fiscal year 2019, 5,438 tickets were written to enforce clearing bike lanes.
The PPA’s unique combination of responsibilities highlights its ability to manage the comprehensive nature of this changing industry, with the integration of transportation and mobility initiatives.