Navigating the New Parking Pay Stations at the Lancaster County Courthouse

August 6, 2009

I had my first encounter with Lancaster’s new parking meter pay stations yesterday when I went to the Courthouse. As you may know, the Lancaster Parking Authority is in the process of removing the standard parking meters that take only coins with parking pay stations. You need to note the number of your parking space (generally painted on the street at the space), look for the pay station in the block and pay for parking in advance at the pay station. You can use coins, dollar bills or credit cards. I was unable to get the credit card feature to work, and my initial reaction was disappointment that you cannot use $5 or $10 bills, only ones. Still, this is better than taking a boatload of quarters with you to plug a meter.

Cost is still the same, $.25 per 12 minutes in the downtown area, vs. the parking garages that charge $2 for the first hour and $1 for any hour or part thereof after. So an hour at a meter is $1.25 up to 2 hours, which is the maximum parking time, or $2.50. In the garage, 2 hours will cost you $3.00. However, if you’re going over 2 hours, one of the garages is a better deal. 

One feature of the new metered parking is that you can add money/time to your space from any pay station, not just the one closest to your car. So if you are at a meeting or hearing blocks away from your car, you do not need to return to your parking space to add money/time for your meter.

What we used to call the King Street Garage (next to Watt & Shand) is now the Penn Square Garage. Since the Marriott and Convention Center opened, spaces on the lower levels are reserved for either Marriott valet parking or Marriott overnight guests. Here’s a tip we got from someone who improperly parked in one of the spaces designated for valet parking – don’t! A large sticker that is just about impossible to remove will be put on your windshield.

If you’re in town for a proceeding at the Courthouse or Domestic Relations, it’s probably best to park in a garage. It is likely that no matter how abbreviated you think your hearing or appearance will be, it will take longer than you estimated, you will not put enough money in the meter, and you will then be faced with a $10 parking ticket. (If you ignore the ticket, the fees will just escalate.) 

For the Courthouse, the closest parking garage is the Duke Street Garage or the Penn Square Garage. For Domestic Relations, it’s the Duke Street Garage or the Prince Street Garage. If you know that you will be in town all day, and don’t mind walking a couple of blocks, use the Water Street Garage that has a $5 flat fee for all day parking.