Harrisburg’s parking changes begin Monday

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Monday! Monday! Monday!

No, not a monster truck rally, rather Harrisburg's new downtown parking meters are set to go live, bringing a new era of parking.

Starting at 8 a.m., the first payments will be made to 40 newly installed digital parking meters. Standard Parking announced the meters will go live, which introduces higher rates and extended hours.

Rates:

Instead of the former $1.50 an hour, parking will now be $3.00 an hour; 75 cents for every 15 minutes.

Hours:

What used to be free parking after 5 p.m. will now include an extra two hours starting Monday.

Metered enforcement will be from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Sunday parking is still free.

Saturdays: 

The first partial-weekend enforcement will begin on Saturday, March 22. It is the same day as Harrisburg's St. Patrick's Day parade and celebration. Standard Parking said only parade route meters would be bagged; all others will be enforced.

When it comes to the new solar-powered meters, there are three ways to pay: cash, coins or credit cards. Standard Parking believes plastic will make the parking experience easier and more efficient.

However, Cait Brennan who lives downtown said it really comes down to price.

“I think I'd rather have the quarter than it be more expensive,” she said.

Part of this included an “Extend-by-Text” program that allows a person to punch in their cell phone and receive a warning text before their meter expires. The program allows people to pay using their smartphone, linked to a credit/debit card. According to Standard Parking flyers, there is an additional transaction fee of 25 cents for each reply.

Brandy Clinkscale works at a downtown bank and often speaks to customers and Restaurant Row business owners. She said the buzz has all been about the parking changes.

“Some of our small business owners have found some difficulty with customer parking,” she said. “Business has slowed down quite a bit.”

The Harrisburg Parking Advisory Committee held its first meeting last month. About two dozen people voiced their opinions, suggestions, and frustrations about the higher rates and extended hours. However, Standard Parking officials said rates and hours were not changing any time soon.

When the city leased the parking system to Standard Parking, about $300 million in bonds were purchased during the transition. Roughly $9 million will go toward maintenance and improvements, according to the Harrisburg Strong recovery plan.

The plan also states that SP+ must pay the state about $200,000 a year. A portion of the revenues will go to the city and $900,000 will pay management fees.

The deal helped rid the city of the $600 million incinerator debt. The parking system transaction helps fund a portion of the city's yearly municipal needs while paying its creditors.

While not widely popular with those who have to pay more at the meters and garages, the deal helped Harrisburg out of its fiscal crisis to this point.

While most of the 40 new meters will cover the majority of the downtown business and Capitol district, there are a few spots around State Street that still use old meters, which will use old rates and hours.

Those who used the Harrisburg Parking Authority's Express Keys are asked to trade them in for Smart Cards at Standard Parking's main office, at 223 Walnut Street.

Even though the changes take effect Monday, St. Patrick's Day, the luck of the Irish won't help those who risk not paying the meters. A parking ticket is $30; $50 is not paid within four days.

You'd have a better chance of finding a pot of gold to help pay for that violation.

“I wish everyone luck,” said Clinkscale. “Hopefully, they can find a garage where they can park off the street.”

 

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