No more free parking on Saturdays: City nixes annual holiday perk

Statement from city calls free parking program ‘counter-productive’
Philadelphia parking meter kiosk
Photo credit Holli Stephens/KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — After more than two decades, the City of Philadelphia is putting the brakes on a free meter parking program for holiday shoppers.

Podcast Episode
KYW Newsradio Audio On-Demand
Philadelphia hits the brakes on free holiday parking
Listen Now
Now Playing
Now Playing

Holiday shoppers used to be able to take advantage of free meter parking citywide on Saturdays between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day any time after 11 a.m., but no more.

A statement from the city on the Philadelphia Parking Authority’s website reads:

“After analyzing parking trends, researching best practices, and talking to businesses, the City’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability (OTIS) determined that the policy of relaxed enforcement is counter-productive. 

“The best practice for on-street parking management says that there should be one or two open spots on every block. This allows residents to find a spot and patronize businesses without excessive circling the block. Similar programs, such as free parking on Wednesdays or First-Fridays were discontinued in the past without negative impacts. Free parking on Saturdays in December encouraged all-day on-street parking while discouraging the turnover that is needed for customers to find a spot and start shopping. 

“The City will continue to work with the PPA and our businesses to ensure the best accessibility to our incredibly shopping districts.”

The effort was initially started more than 20 years ago to attract holiday mall shoppers to Philadelphia businesses.

Last year, a PPA spokesperson called the initiative “vital,” as small businesses were struggling amid the height of the coronavirus pandemic.