Christina Georgiou reports on some very good proposals in the Panto administration’s budget:
- Change the hours of meter operation and parking enforcement of all Downtown parking meters to 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday
- Put metered parking into operation in some locations Downtown from noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays, most likely on or south of Northampton Street and on the Centre Square
- Increase the time limit for Downtown street parking except on Centre Square from two to three hours
- Install about 200 smart meters in the Downtown core, from Second to Fourth streets and from Spring Garden to Ferry streets
- Install multi-space payment boxes at three surface parking lots at an estimated cost of $24,000 to $40,000, with the variable in price being dependent on the type of box and its capabilities the city chooses
- Offer a discount of $5 on all parking tickets paid within 24 hours, with the discount offer for those being issued on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday being good through the close of the business day on Monday
- Add better signage to guide city visitors to parking areas
- Create a pass program for those who work nights to park at a discounted rate in the city parking garage
Steckman said the city would also consider lowering the rate for parking in the deck from $1 per hour to 50c and hour between 5 and 9 p.m.
What all these changes have in common is that they’re moving the city away from cheap parking to convenient parking. The credit card meters are the best part. The absolute worst thing about curb parking is the fear that you don’t have enough quarters, or need to go get change from a nearby business. The meters Easton is looking at (same ones as Bethlehem) let you pay by card, and re-up your time via cell phone if you won’t be back by the time limit.
People should keep in mind that the purpose of parking pricing is managing demand. Any time it gets busy downtown, the meters need to be running. That goes for the Saturday night bar crowd and the Sunday morning church crowd. There’s nothing mean or punitive about this. It’s all about managing traffic and making sure that everyone can find a parking space quickly without having to circle around the block a bunch of times.
If I ran the zoo, the meters would always be running, 7 days a week, but the price would depend on how busy it was. At peak times, the price would go up to $1-2, then back down to around 75 for average parking demand, and then down to 0 for low demand hours. But the meters would always stand ready to raise the prices at any time, depending solely on how many nearby curb spaces are filled. Once half the spaces on the curb were full, the meters would start charging, with prices going as high as necessary to keep 1-2 spaces open on every block.