As a former valet worker who was on the front-lines of serving out-of-town visitors in Philadelphia, I have come to the conclusion that visitors are better off spending the extra money to park in a lot, in a garage, or with a valet service...because so many people get hit with parking tickets. Some even get towed, in addition to parking tickets!
The Philadelphia Parking Authority is a marvel of efficiency and ruthlessness. And it is easy to become confused by a sign and park in an illegal space.
If you are late to get back to your car by 60 seconds, it's probably already too late... unless you got lucky!
It's incredible how motivated and hardworking these ticket writers are. Believe me, they are absolutely brutal. (Have you seen the smash cable TV hit "Parking Wars?")
If you park in a lot or parking garage, you don't have to worry at all about getting tickets or being towed. Instead, you can relax and enjoy your Philadelphia visit.
If you decide to be cheap and take your chances with street parking though, a ticket will make this decision an expensive choice. Here is a breakdown of the costs you may be facing:
Tow fee: $175, plus $25 per day storage fee + 20% tax on storage fee.
Blocking a driveway in Center City or University City: $76
Blocking a mass transit vehicle: $101
Parking in a bus zone in Center City or University City: $76
Blocking a curb cut ramp for people with disabilities: $76
Parking in a handicapped space: $301
Parking on a marked pedestrian crosswalk in Center City or University City: $76
Parking on a sidewalk: $51 or $76
Being stopped or parked at a taxi stand: $31
Illegally placed ticket: $51
Parked mobile home: $51
Excessive idling of motor vehicles: $101
Parking on the grass $101
Excessive noise: $101.
Damage parking meter: $301
Expired meter in Center City or University City: $36
Parking over time limit at meter in Center City or University City: $36
Commercial vehicle parked in residential area: $101
Displaying vehicle for sale on roadway: $301
Commercial washing or repairing vehicle on roadway: $301
Disobey signs - stopping, standing, parking in Center City or University City: $36 or $76
Contractor placard violation: $101
Bus parked other than in bus stand: $251
Improper discharge of passengers from bus: $251
Bus parked improperly in bus zone: $251
Stop/block highway in Center City or University City: $76
Stopped in medial strip in center of divided highway: $31
Blocking fire hydrant in Center City or University City: $76
Too close to corner in Center City or University City: $76
Parked on private property: $26
No parking valet zone: $31
Overtime valet zone: $101
Parked in unmetered space in Center City or University City: $36
Parked improperly at meter: $26
Unlawful vehicle alarm: $101
Illegal bicycle parking: $15 (may have increased?)
If you don't pay your ticket within 8 days, $23 gets added to the bill. If you go 30 days without paying up, they add another $15 is added to what you owe. (Possibly outdated information. Might be higher now.)
If you believe your car was towed, call the PPA at: 1-888-591-3636. You must claim your car within 21 days or it will be auctioned off.
So what do you think now? Think off-street parking is the safer choice?
The best choice actually is probably valet parking. There is a lot that can go wrong with valet parking and I have written extensively about it on this website site. However, valet parking is the best choice when it comes to personal safety... because you get to wait in a safe place while it is being retrieved.
Crime does happen in big city parking lots and parking garages. Those types of facilities often have a lot of places for a criminal to hide.
Philly is a great city to visit. I have observed that a lot of people are pleasantly surprised with what they discover here. But I have also seen the parking tickets they got clobbered with while visiting here. I hate seeing visitors get jacked with these penalties. Be smart. Avoid parking on the street if you can.
Philly's parking ticket hot spots