Beginning this summer, drivers parking in and around the Gayborhood will no longer have to dig for quarters between their seats or scour local stores for change for a dollar.
In July, the Philadelphia Parking Authority will install multi-space meters throughout Center City that will offer patrons numerous payment options and aim to free up more parking spaces.
Two or three computerized meters will be installed on each block in the “core” of Center City — from Fourth to 20th streets and Arch to Locust — where patrons can pay for the amount of time they need and then receive a printed ticket to display on their dashboards. The new meters will accept coins, dollar bills, credit cards and PPA Smart Cards.
The $11-million project will be completed in this area of Center City by the end of July and will be implemented next in University City and the rest of Center City by February.
Rick Dickson, PPA senior director of strategic planning, said the machines will alleviate some of the headaches people face when trying to park on city streets.
“The new equipment gives people more payment options, which increases the convenience of parking,” he said. “It will also provide flexibility in the time limits and hours we can use.”
Dickson explained that most spaces around retail areas in Center City have a two-hour parking limit, but that the new machines will allow parking officials to more easily expand that time limit to three hours on evenings and weekends to accommodate patrons who stay in the area longer.
But, Dickson said the revamped system will encourage visitors to move on when their time is up — as parkers will no longer be able to just throw more change in the meters — freeing up spaces for other visitors.
“When this is fully implemented, it will increase the opportunities for people to park in Center City because it does push those people who were parking for longer periods of time out of those spaces so that they can really be used for retail customers rather than for people who park there all day.”
Judy Applebaum, president of the Washington West Civic Association, attested that the Gayborhood already has a plethora of parking problems.
“The Parking Authority needs to walk through Wash. West and change many of the places they have placed their ‘No Parking’ or ‘No Parking, Here to Corner’ [signs] on many of the streets,” Applebaum said. “The signs are ill-placed and could create many more parking spaces if properly placed in the neighborhood.”
The system has already been implemented in parts of the city, such as on South Street and around the Headhouse Square area.
PPA raised rates for on-street parking from $1 to $2 an hour earlier this year, and the rates will increase to $3 an hour this summer.