There have been recent questions asked about how payment is made on the streets in Lancaster city. The “old fashioned” meters were 50 years old, and parts and service are nearly obsolete. In anticipation of this issue, over 10 years ago, we incorporated on-street multi-space kiosks (with the additional benefit of cleaning up the Streetscape) and a new technology at the time, pay by phone. More recently, most of the old meters were eliminated (except on Market Street between the Post Office and County Building) but making sure there is nearly one kiosk per block within the Downtown Investment District (DID), with only a few exceptions, so that someone can still use coins – yes, you can use coins at the kiosks to pay for on-street parking. All kiosks accept coins, credit cards, mobile phone payment, and nearly 75% of the units also accept bills.
As of this month, 94% of all on-street transactions are conducted by credit card or mobile phone pay. This acceptance rate is as high as any city in the country. Why is this a good thing? Because the LPA stresses compliance over enforcement. It is in our strategic plan. If you use your phone to pay (with the ParkMobile or ParkLancaster app), you are almost assured you will not receive a parking citation, since the technology lets you know when your paid parking space will expire, and it allows you to add time from wherever you are in the city. The numbers tell the story, the LPA makes more money if you pay for parking, than from a citation, since 90% of citation revenue is paid to the city. For example, an hour of on-street parking is $2.50, but 10% of a $20 citation means that LPA only earns $2.00.
On-street parking is a valued asset that is in place for short-term trips and is priced higher than garages to make sure space is open in each block to patronize the shops, restaurants, and businesses of your liking. Circling the block looking for on-street space increases traffic, congestion and the carbon footprint. So, we still suggest parking in one of our seven garages for longer-stay trips, and the cost is cheaper. Our garages are $2 per hour for each of the first two hours and then a $1 per hour thereafter, still the cheapest garage rates in our region compared to our peer cities of Harrisburg, York and Reading.
By: Larry J. Cohen, CAPP, Executive Director, Lancaster Parking Authority