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Plans to alleviate South Side parking problems being considered

| Sunday, Feb. 25, 2001

South Side business owners and residents are hoping to make parking a little farther away more appealing for those who patronize the businesses along East Carson Street.

Carey Harris, executive director of the South Side Local Development Co., said the organization and the Pittsburgh Parking Authority are finalizing plans to lease lots at UPMC South Side and operate a shuttle bus to the business district.

The shuttle bus program will be from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays from the end of April through the end of September, Harris said. The group hopes to make taking the shuttle 'fun and easy,' she added.

The shuttle bus is just one solution being considered to ease the parking crunch. Also being considered is increasing the number of parking lots.

The solutions were presented at a meeting of the South Side Planning Forum as part of the authority's analysis of a study of the parking problem.

The study showed that Fridays are the most congested days for parking, and the most difficult times to find a place to park are between noon and 1 p.m. and after 6 p.m., Harris explained.

Results of the study also showed that a majority of motorists were parking for two hours or less. This means they most likely are shoppers and restaurant patrons, not commuters or employees, she said.

'We were pleased with that,' Harris said.

The study also revealed that visitors first seek on-street residential spaces before metered on-street spaces, with lots being their last preference.

Some South Side residents had suggested residential permit parking as a solution to visitors taking up their spaces, but that effort failed for lack of interest.

'I could have predicted that the residents wouldn't accept that,' said Roberta Stackawitz, vice president of the South Side Community Council. Permit parking does not assure residents a space and 'they don't want it unless they are assured a space in front of their house.'

Stackawitz said she believes offering more lots and incentives to lure visitors to those lots 'might alleviate (the parking problem) to some degree.'

Details for the shuttle still are being finalized, but organizers have suggested a fee of 'a buck or two' to ride, Harris said.

They are considering issuing shuttle riders a card or wristband that would entitle them to discounts at local bars and restaurants, and providing entertainment on the shuttle also is being considered.

Susan Schmeichel can be reached at sschmeichel@tribweb.com or (412) 306-4527.

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