Rate increase: City parking garages face up to economic reality

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Nobody likes to see prices go up, but sometimes hikes are warranted.

That’s the case of the Pittsburgh Parking Authority rates at its lots and garages, where increases will go into effect Aug. 1 following a vote by its board on Thursday.

Increases in all-day rates for Downtown locations will range from a $1 price hike at the Monongahela Wharf, to $9, to $4.25 more at three garages — Oliver, which will be $17, and Mellon Square and Smithfield-Liberty, where the new daily rate will be $18. Daily rates at the other authority facilities also will go up, as will lease prices and hourly rates for shorter-term parking.

Changes also will go into effect for authority garages and lots in Shadyside and Oakland, but parking rates at meters will not change.

Why is the increase justified?

The rates haven’t gone up since 2004, and the authority needs to increase revenue in order to maintain its facilities and make improvements for the future. That includes technology upgrades, including those that help motorists find spaces without forcing them to drive all over town in search of a location without a “FULL” sign.

The higher fees also will allow the authority to maintain its favorable bond-to-debt ratio, necessary when it must borrow to finance capital projects, and to make its required payments to the city under its fiscal oversight plans.

It’s also worth noting that the new rates remain lower than the private-market competitors and what motorists would have faced if a failed effort to privatize the parking lots and garages had gone forward in 2011.

Parking is a necessary service in a vibrant urban core, and Pittsburgh suffers from a shortage, not a glut. The authority’s spaces typically fill up early on weekdays, and that is expected to remain true despite the price increases.

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