Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Downtown Parking Thanksgiving

Mr Benter of the Benter Foundation got fed up with searching for parking downtown, so he directed his foundation to spend $175,000 to develop ParkPGH. Currently, the application-website tells users the availability of parking at 8 downtown garages in the Cultural District.

In January, ParkPGH will add a ninth location, the parking authority garage at Ninth Street and Penn Avenue. At that point, the system will encompass 5,300 spaces -- 25 percent of Downtown garage capacity.

If I'm doing the math correctly, that means there are 21,200 parking spaces available in downtown parking garages.

The system potentially benefits 2 million annual Cultural District visitors and about 150,000 daily Downtown commuters.

So we have 21,2000 parking spaces available downtown for 150,000 daily commuters. That means the vast majority of downtown workers park elsewhere and walk or take public transportation downtown.

On Tuesday night, the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission narrowly voted to bail out Port Authority with an extra $45 Million they had lying around - on the condition that Port Authority still implements some cuts in March. When Port Authority enacts its slightly less catastrophic 15% compromise service cuts in March, at least all those stranded downtown workers will be able to watch the parking garages fill in real-time on their iPhone.

And to make it a parking trifecta this week, Pittsburgh City Council is fast-tracking a plan to lease our parking garages and bail out the city's own pension fund. The good news? The garages will only be leased for 40 years (instead of 50) and the city will be eligible for profit-sharing from the garages. The bad news? They're still leasing the parking meters and giving up control over parking throughout the city and not ultimately solving the city's long-term pension woes.

So in summary, thanks to Mr Benter for actually getting something done. Thanks to the Southwest Pennsylvania Commission for stepping in where the state repeatedly refuses to tread - even if the money comes with strings attached. And thanks that I'm not a Pittsburgh City Councilor stuck between a rock and a hard place.

1 comment:

Dean Jackson said...

Don't forget to count the (enormous) amount of open lot parking at Station Square, the Mellon Arena, and by the Heinz History Center, where people park (not in a garage, but in a lot).