Many people I know that live outside or not far from the city rarely go into it for one main reason – parking. The Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) is one of the most hated organizations in the country. A&E even has a hit TV show about them (“Parking Wars”) which is now in its fifth season.

As if the holiday madness wasn’t bad enough, parking in the city presents some big hurdles – completely different signs/rules on every block, not enough, change, broken meters, just to name a few…and that’s if you’re able to find parking at all. You need a Ph.D. to decipher the rules on some of these signs (1hr parking M-W from 9am-4pm, 3hr parking Tu-F 5pm – 9pm, 2hr parking Sa-Su 7am-11am except holidays, No parking W from 1am-7am, No stopping any other time – Tow away zone). What?!

In recent years the wonderful PPA has tried a number of things to help the citizens of the city of Brotherly (and Sisterly) Love. A few years ago they instituted a pre-paid card reading system into the current meters. This allowed people to purchase a card at PPA offices or on-line in set increments - $5, $10, $20, etc. This never truly caught on as the cards were not that easy to get when you needed them, the meters still broke, and they were only installed on certain blocks. So if you bought a card for $20 and then parked on a street with meters that didn’t accept them – you are out of luck. What they tried more recently to “help” us citizens was to install parking payment centers in which you could use cash (dollar bills or change) or even a major credit card to pay. You chose the length of time you wanted, paid, and a piece of paper prints out with how long you have. You would then place it in your curbside windshield. Again, only a certain blocks throughout the city have these. That also eliminated those few times you could get lucky and pull into a spot with cash already in the meter. I am sure them helping us while making more money was no coincidence. Despite (rather because of) these so called improvements, the rates have continuously increased and are now $3.00 an hour in center city.

All of these things deter so many people from coming into the city and spending money. I can’t tell you how many times I had to leave a romantic dinner or in the middle of a great conversation at a bar with friends to have to run a few blocks to feed the meter – just to find that the meter maid had been standing there waiting to write me a ticket.

Well Philadelphia could follow San Francisco and make an improvement that might actually help. San Francisco is planning on launching a new service that allows people to feed their meter using their cell phones. The person will have to download an app and the city will alert drivers via text message that their meters are about to expire. Not only that, but they will have the option to put more money on the meter remotely using their phones! There will be a service fee of $0.45 per transaction. Is it worth $0.45 to not have to leave the restaurant/bar/store in the freezing cold to run a half mile to catch the dying meter? Oh yeah.

What is the PPA doing for us this holiday season? Free metered parking on January 1st and 2nd. Thanks.
Share To:

Nick Haneiko

Post A Comment:

1 comments so far,Add yours

  1. You are 100% right about the parking in Center City! Great idea about cell phone payments.