Holy Parking Challenges by Kathleen Federici
Working for IPI and living in the suburbs of Philadelphia as the surrounding states and area brace for the September Papal visit has offered me an entirely different perspective on the parking and transportation planning necessary between now and then. All hotels in the tri-state area have been sold out for months. Rooms in regular homes are being rented out to accommodate the masses of humanity that will be pouring into the area. As a local to Philadelphia, I am curiously watching how the mass transit and parking challenges are being handled.
Our regional rail service has created an additional special announcement section to its website. Professionals there have marketed and announced the Papal visit day passes and the accompanying pricing for the Papal transit pass. These passes go on sale next week and are anticipated to sell out as fast as the 2015 Grateful Dead reunion concert. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) has even created a new online ecommerce system that will launch when Papal passes sales begin. SEPTA has already announced regional rail station closings and which locations the trains will pick up and drop off passengers. This is in effort to accommodate travel demands and run express-type services. Just 18 regional rail stations will be in operation for the Papal visit. So this begs the question: Where will folks park? SEPTA is urging passengers to plan for a drop-off at or near the stations as crowds will be overwhelming and parking limited. Ridesharing and bike riding are means that are being promoted as to assist with the limited parking and seriously overwhelming crowds.
As much as I would like to see the Pope in person, my car will stay parked in my driveway and I will be watching the happenings and events of the Papal visit from the luxury of my home!