Nov 2, 2021 - News
Philadelphia parking demand could cost drivers under new proposal
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Is dynamic-priced parking coming to Philly?

Driving the news: City Councilmember Mark Squilla introduced a proposal last week that would create a pilot program to hike or cut metered parking rates in some areas, based on demand.

Details: Officials have yet to hammer out specifics, including pricing and locations, said Christopher Puchalsky, director of policy and strategic initiatives at the Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability (OTIS).

  • But preestablished price fluctuations would be set over a period of six to 12 months, Puchalsky said.
  • "They wouldn't be on a daily or hourly basis because that doesn't give enough people a chance to change their behavior," he said.

The big picture: Philly would join other cities such as New York City and San Francisco, which have already put in place some form of dynamic-priced parking programs.

Between the lines: The expansion of outdoor dining during the pandemic has further reduced the city's already tight parking supply, Puchalsky said.

  • The goal of the program would be to create at least one or two open spots on every block and reduce illegal parking, he said.

Plus: Providing predictable and legal parking isn't only good for motorists and businesses. It would help bus passengers and pedestrians too, Puchalsky said.

  • Illegal parking slows bus traffic and puts pedestrians in danger, he noted.

What they're saying: Squilla anticipates pushback from some residents.

  • "Anytime there's a change, you're going to have people questioning it," he said. "But doing it this way [via a pilot program] allows you to test it without forcing it down people’s throats."

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association (PRLA) said the industry group is interested in the proposal but is waiting to hear more details.

  • "It's great that Philadelphia is looking into alleviating parking concerns. The more accessible and convenient parking is, the better it is for our restaurants and hotels," Zak Pyzik, director of government affairs for PRLA, said in an email.

Erick Guerra, associate professor of city and regional planning at the University of Pennsylvania, said a lot of the traffic in commercial areas comes from people looking for parking.

  • "The idea is more about managing parking, and the side positive aspect is less congestion. The more you can match the prices to the demand, the better," he said.

What's next: The proposal goes to a legislative hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.

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