Day one comes and goes for Harrisburg's new parking system

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Mar 18, 2014 4:00 AM

(Harrisburg) -- New parking rates and hours are in effect in Harrisburg. Day one left some confused, but businesses think the real test will come later this week.

It's not hard to spot the neon yellow jackets that Standard Parking's employees wear, as they patrol Harrisburg's downtown looking for violations.


Photo by Ben Allen/witf

Instead of individual meters, large machines take credit cards, but also charge double the previous hourly rate.

"But if it was on my own dime, I'd think that that was pretty expensive," Eric Songers was doing business in Harrisburg as a contractor for Verizon.  

"Three bucks an hour? If I was in Manhattan, that'd be reasonable, but for Harrisburg I thought that was pretty pricy," he says. "If I was doing it on my own dime, I'd probably search out for some free parking for a while first."

Business owners say they're most concerned about the extended hours, running until 7:00 p.m. on weeknights, and from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. on Saturday as well.

Giavanna Calderone works at Cafe Fresco part time, and says she's concerned if less business means less tips.

"With most downtown cities, they stop at five o'clock. And Saturday's they're going to have parking here to pay till seven, which is crazy," she says. "It's going to kill the business downtown for sure."

They say they didn't take a hit in business on the first day, but are nervous for later in the week.

The higher rates are a part of the Harrisburg Strong plan to pay off the city's hundreds of millions in debt.

The first major test for the new parking system and its impact may come Saturday, when Harrisburg holds its Saint Patrick's Day parade.

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