Some changes are in store for parking in downtown Burlington.
One of them should help alleviate congestion at the Church Street Marketplace Garage. The other should make it easier to get into and out of all three of the city’s public garages.
Kerry Boyle lives in Venise-en-Québec, at the northern tip of Lake Champlain. She visits Burlington once every other week.
“I kind of miss that there aren’t real people here anymore and it’s machines (in the parking garages),” she said. “I would have preferred the real people.”
Burlington phased out its parking garage cashiers last fall, replacing them with pay-on-foot stations. The cashiers haven’t lost their jobs, but their roles have changed. During peak hours, they give out maps at the Marketplace Garage encouraging drivers to use the College Street and Lakeview Garages instead.
However, it’s been difficult to tell that that’s why the employees are there, and Alex Bunten of the Burlington Business Association says the city is changing that in the near future.
“We’re going to now re-brand them, as it were, with more of a Burlington city feel, with a Park Burlington logo and other aspects to make them look like they are there to greet you and help you on your journey,” he said.
The other two garages aren’t much farther away from Church Street than the Marketplace garage is, and they aren’t as heavily used.
There’s also another, more significant change in the works. The city is in the early stages of developing a frequent parking program. After signing up through a city website, you would be issued a simple bar code.
“Put it on the back of their phone and just scan themselves in; it says, ‘welcome, Alex Bunten’,” Bunten said. “On the way out, you scan the way out and it pays automatically through a credit card online.”
It would be similar to the E-Z Pass used on toll highways in 17 states, including New York and New Hampshire. Boyle probably wouldn’t miss dealing with paper tickets.
“Sometimes we’ve had a little bit of a problem in the initial stages, and I think it sounds like a pretty good idea,” she said. “A frequent user system sounds fine to me.”
There’s no word yet on when the frequent parking program might open to the general public. It’s also not clear yet if you’ll get a discount on parking rates if you join.
The city’s Downtown Parking & Transportation Council discussed these changes at a meeting Thursday, the first meeting it had held in months. Its next meeting will be on Thursday, May 30th.