Tag Archives: free parking

Philadelphia Lures Visitors Back with Parking

Parking ticket officer walks over Germantown Avenue in the shopping district of Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia.Cities stopped charging for parking at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when there weren’t enough cars to justify it and businesses were struggling to survive. Now, at least one city is using free parking–with a catch–to try and get shoppers, diners, and tourists to come back en masse.

Visit Philly, the tourism bureau of Philadelphia, Pa., is offering visitors to the Old City free parking on Saturdays if they spend at least $8 on the attractions of the Independence Visitors Center during their stay.

Visit Philly says visitor spending has been cut about in half by pandemic restrictions; now that they’re being lifted, it feels like the perfect time to encourage tourists to venture back downtown, and parking is a good incentive. The effort is part of a larger marketing campaign, planned to run through the end of May. Read the whole story here and let us know from your perspective in the industry: Good use of “free parking” or no?

Flexibility and COVID-19

COVID-19 parking transportation curbBy Mark Lyons, CAPP     

Albert Einstein said the measure of intelligence is the ability to change. The demand for changes in mobility programs as a result of COVID-19 are enough to make any good mobility professional more flexible than taffy on hot day. I know you’re probably more than done with hearing about C-19 issues. And, yes, there are still many hurdles to cross before we can feel like it was before and getting back to the new “normal.” But for a minute, could we start to look back and realize that in very short order, our industry pros became central in the planning and recovery of our local microcosm?

Look at some of the stories where parking directors have yielded, albeit temporarily, the demand for paid meters and citations, instead posting signage to help local business preserve parking near their doors to encourage shoppers to continue honoring local services. Think about the number of streets and parking spaces that have been cut off so restaurants could bring seating outside to the customer. Loading zones have been extended to improve delivery logistics. Many cities and universities enhanced parking rates or time restrictions to ensure customers were not dissuaded from engaging local businesses. Many of us modified citation collections schedules and fees to provide relief during this period, when so many workers lost jobs.

There are many stories that could be talked about for days, but can we now take a moment to bask in our collective efforts to help our communities? Our professional parking and mobility pros have worked as integral partners with city engineers, planners, police departments, universities, city managers, and business associations and districts, and continue to support local businesses.

I hope our mobility community is no longer considered a distraction or viewed as an opponent of the business community. The next time somebody tells us that paid parking programs scare their customers away, remind them how flexible our industry was during the pandemic and of the hours we’ve spent contemplating how to help our local businesses, as well as the concessions that were made to help keep dreams alive.

If what Albert Einstein said is true, then congratulations team! Not only are you very smart, but you’ve made us all look great in the process!

Mark Lyons, CAPP, is parking division manager with the City of Sarasota, Fla.


Town Cancels Free Holiday Parking, Blames Freeloading Commuters

Bayonne, N.J., pulled the plug on its traditional offer of free municipal parking during the December holidays because, the mayor said, too many NJ Transit riders abused it, parking in the free municipal lots all day instead of lots for commuters.

“In recent years, the city … has offered free parking in municipal parking lots for non-commercial vehicles during the month of December,” the mayor said. “That policy was intended to encourage Christmas shopping in Bayonne. However, the free parking policy was abused by out-of-town commuters who parked their cars in the lots for several hours while they took the light rail to work in New York.”

Officials said businesses owners reported cars with New York plates parked in the municipal lots all day, leading them to believe those drivers were commuters into the city, not shoppers (A New York City councilman quickly fired back on Twitter with a quip about “Jersey boys” in their lots).

Free parking during the holiday season has become a common practice in recent years. Business owners and shoppers say it makes the shopping season easier. Read the whole story here. Has something similar happened in your area during free parking season? Let us know in the comments.

Columnist: Manage Demand or We All Pay

Parking minimums for new construction projects are up for debate in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, including a recent four-hour session on the topic by the city council. Elise Stolte, columnist for the Edmonton Journal newspaper, took up the topic this week with an impassioned piece about the need to control parking supply–especially in an area where it’s been more than plentiful.

“Edmonton has regulated an over-abundance of parking that is really expensive to provide.” Stolte writes. “For every new building, it requires developers to supply parking as if every day was Boxing Day at West Edmonton Mall.”  She quotes a parking study that found only 7.5 percent of parking lots in the city were ever 90 percent full, and argues that developers should be required to provide some parking to avoid an under-supply, but that having citizens pay to use it is likely the way to balance available parking for those who need it with building and maintaining an excessive amount for no reason. Now, where have we heard that before?

Read the article here and let us know on Forum–what advice would you give Edmonton?

A Favorite Perk of Nobel Laureates

If you work in a university setting, there’s a good chance you already know about this, but the Wall Street Journal and its readers are taking notice: One of the perks of winning a Nobel prize is often free parking for life.

The story published this past weekend starts with J. Fraser Stoddart, who was named a Nobel prize winner in 2016. He told the reporter that he almost immediately got a call from the higher-ups at Northwestern University, letting him know he would receive a parking spot close to his office at no charge, and it wasn’t an insignificant moment.

“With campus parking spots in high demand, and seemingly always in short supply, these asphalt rectangles are particularly valuable real estate,” says the story, going on to expound on universities that offer precious little reserved parking, much less for free, except for Nobel laureates.

So now you, parking professionals, can say you’re part of one of the biggest prizes in the world. Read the whole story here.