Your guide to finding the right spot

Philadelphia parking is infamous but, with the right knowledge you can keep your car from getting ticketed or towed.

There are some things that only Philadelphia drivers understand. From navigating Center City’s never-ending construction, mastering how to merge onto I-76 during rush hour traffic, and even avoiding small anvils on I-95, sometimes getting to your final destination can be a test of patience. Unfortunately, the obstacles don’t just end there.

Even though the freedom of driving lets you come and go at your own pace, deciphering parking time slots and arrows on signs isn’t always easy (it’s even led to memes). Plus, even when you’re lucky enough to find a spot, you still run the risk of seeing that white violation envelope under your wipers if you get it wrong.

So here’s all the information you need about parking, permits, free days, savesies, getting towed, and more.

» How to park for cheap or free in Philadelphia

Deciphering parking time slots and arrows on signs isn’t always easy, so we break it down for you. We also have tips on how to navigate the parking apps, secure permits and what days you can get free access to parking garages. Pro tip: There are 10 lots and garages operated by PPA, which are, in general, cheaper than private lots.

This city also has some pretty unique parking traditions. From people placing cones and inanimate objects marking our spots — also called “cone rangers”— to treating the medians like a driveway, Philly has its own social parking code, which we seem to regard more highly than the city’s regulations. They won’t always get you a parking ticket, but you should know them when driving in this town. For all of that and more, read our article here.

» Did you get a courtesy tow in Philly? Here’s what to do.

Did I misremember where I parked? Wait, is this a tow-away zone? Oh no — did my car get stolen? Any scenario is possible, of course. But, in Philly, there’s another hazard that could have befallen your beloved vehicle: the notorious “courtesy tow.” Courtesy tows — when your car is towed from its legal spot — are not uncommon. So, what exactly is a courtesy tow, and what should you do if you think it’s happened to you? Here is what you need to know.

» How to fight a parking ticket in Philadelphia

It’s worth fighting a ticket. Here’s how to challenge your tickets more effectively, or get a ticket reduced or withdrawn. Tickets can be disputed on the Philadelphia Parking Authority website or by mail (there used to be in-person hearings for parking tickets, but now that’s only the case if your vehicle is booted or towed.) You can get information about your ticket at 888-591-3636. When disputing a ticket, it’s up to you to provide evidence of why you shouldn’t have been ticketed. You’ll be asked to submit written evidence and any other documentation (such as photos) for why your ticket should be dismissed. There is no fee to contest a ticket. For more tips, read our article here.

» Philly officials refuse to fix courtesy-tow problem as class-action lawsuits proceed

Philadelphians have complained about courtesy tows, but the city has so far refused to take any significant action, or even publicly acknowledge the well-documented problem. A classic Philly Shrug. The city doesn’t have a reliable system for documenting where the vehicles are towed to — or, in some cases, even who towed them.

Drivers have spent weeks or months wandering the streets, looking for cars that could have been dropped off a couple of blocks away or in another neighborhood altogether. Some courtesy-tow victims have had their cars dropped off in metered or no-parking zones, then ticketed and towed a second time by the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA). Appealing the tickets is often futile, because drivers have no way to prove that they didn’t illegally park their car in the second location. So now some victims have opened lawsuits against the city.

» Some Philly schools are losing teachers because of parking woes

Academy at Palumbo is an acclaimed magnet high school, with strong academics and a diverse student body. But when principal Kiana Thompson interviews candidates for open positions there, she braces herself for the inevitable question: “What’s the parking like at your school?” Her honest answer: Not good.

The school has no designated parking for employees. The issue was front and center this past school year when the school board asked City Council for more money to run the district, and for assistance in other ways, including providing street parking for schools that lack dedicated lots — especially in neighborhoods where employees have to park far away and have safety concerns. There’s been no solution to this problem. City Council said there isn’t much they can do and the school board doesn’t have the funds to address the issue on their own either. Read on for more.

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