If you have lived in Philadelphia for any amount of time, you’re most certainly familiar with the Philly Parking Authority or the PPA. Despite frequent conjecture, the PPA are not goblins, satanists, communists, or whatever terrible thing you may have called them in the past. No, the PPA are misunderstood creatures. They are just like you and me. Average people striving to do their jobs to the best of their ability.

In fact, without them, parking in the city would likely devolve into complete chaos. Let’s go over some basic parking tips that can help everyone get along with the PPA a little better.

1. Budget your time

As much as you would like to blame the parking authority for everything, it’s definitely not their fault if you poorly allot your time. The most basic and self-explanatory way to avoid parking tickets is to properly plan out your day.

Much of Philly’s metered parking is limited to two hours. These spots are great for bouncing around to different areas of the city during the day, but can be dangerous if you plan on going to a show or longer event. Stay mindful. Typically, most spots will have a grace period of two (for kiosks) or five minutes (for meters), but don’t push your luck.

2. Use the available tools

As a gesture of good faith to the people of Philadelphia, the PPA has created a very useful parking locator tool. The tool allows you to search parking locations by popular destination or by address in the city. The locator even lets you compare parking by price and distance from your location.

Another helpful tool to minimize your parking stress is ParkWhiz. The service not only lets you search for spots by location, but also allows you to book spots in advance using their app.

3. Permit Parking

A lot of residents will tell you that certain neighborhoods (parts of South Philly, for example) have pretty lax enforcement of the permit parking laws. In my experience, I have found this to be somewhat true. Against my better judgment, I have parked in permit-only spots many times and have only been ticketed once. Instead of taking the risk, I would recommend taking advantage of the temporary permits that the PPA offers:

  • A permit for 15 consecutive days is available for $15
  • Alternatively, five separate day-long permits can be purchase for $35

4. (Limited) Free Parking

While free Philly parking may sound like an oxymoron, it does exist, even if in limited capacity. It goes without saying these lots fill up quick, but if you get lucky there are actually 20+ free lots scattered throughout the city. For quick stops, take advantage of loading zones. As long as it’s not marked a “passenger loading zone” this spot will be free of charge for 30 minutes. Additionally, every Wednesday, Center City offers free street parking after 5 PM. One day out of the week ain’t bad.

5. Learn the meaning of rescission

If you ever happen to walk out to your car and see it being ticketed, please resist the urge to physically attack the parking official (yes, I’ve seen this happen). Instead, politely mention the word ‘rescission’ and as long as the ticket has not been printed, you should be off scot-free. Say it with me: re·scis·sion.

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