Parking is always a hot issue in any city, and metro areas in the Lehigh Valley are no exception. As Easton undergoes a parking study and considers new parking management strategies, a number of people have made a number of comparisons with the next closest city, Bethlehem.
So how do the two cities stack up? Read on for our fact-checked comparison of parking in the two cities...
Metered Parking and Rates
In Bethlehem, the current rate for metered street parking is 50 cents per hour, and the meters run from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Parking time limits vary at metered parking in Bethlehem, but most on-street parking is between 2 to 10 hours. However, the city is considering changing its rates for meters and garages.
In Easton, the current rate is 50 cents per hour for metered on-street parking, and most meters run from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The exceptions are the on-street metered spots in the courthouse district, where metered parking is in operation from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Most spots Downtown are currently limited to two or three hours, and most in the courthouse district is limited to 10 hours.
Enforcement and overtime fines
In Easton, the fine for an expired meter or overtime parking is $20 if
paid within seven days, and increases to $30 after that.
Most other infractions are fined at $25, increased to $35 after a
week, including lack of proper inspection or registration stickers,
blocking the street sweeper, and not parking within the lines.
Violations fined at $50 include unauthorized used of handicapped parking, unauthorized parking on private property, and parking in the College Hill residential permit parking zones without a permit. These
increase to $60 or $75 depending on the violation if not paid within seven days.
In Bethlehem, overtime parking, failure to feed the meter and other small parking infractions such as blocking the street sweeper are fined at the rate
of $10 if paid within 14 days in Bethelehem. After that, the fine is $30.
Other parking violations, such as parking too close to an intersection
or fire hydrant, or lack of proper registrations stickers and the
majority of other violations not involving expired meters or overtime
parking, are $15 if paid within two weeks, then $35. Violations involving handicapped parking start at $50.
Parking Deck Rates
Easton currently has only one parking deck, located off South Third Street between Pine and Ferry streets. Additionally, the Easton Parking Authority runs a surface parking lot on Third Street.
Current rates are as follows:
- $60/month for 24-hour parking in the Pine Street Garage
- $2/hour for daily parking 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., $1/hour from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m.
- $16.00 is the maximum daily rate
- $45/month for 24-hour parking at North 3rd Street surface lot
By comparison, the BPA owns 12 parking decks. Rates vary somewhat, but 10 out of the 12 offer monthly parking at $30 per month, with two decks on the north side of the city at $55 per month. The transient rate is $1 per hour at these two decks, with a maximum amount of $6 per day.
Residential parking permits cost an initial fee of $20 for a year, and renewals are $10 in Bethlehem.
Additionally, students and residents with parking permits may get a visitor permit for up to 14 days in a year.
In Easton, residential permit parking is available to those living on certain blocks in the Downtown, College Hill and West Ward districts. Residential permits for designated areas on College Hill near Lafayette College and the West Ward courthouse area are free with proper documentation.
Qualifying Downtown residents pay $100 per year for a permit that allows the resident to park without time limit or restriction in on-street metered spots and some surface lots in one of four zones determined by address.
Easton does not grant permits to temporary guests, students or those who work in the city at this time.
Bethlehem has been experimenting with solar-powered smart meters. As we mentioned above, the Bethlehem Parking Authority is considering raising on-street meter rates to $1 per hour while simultaneously lowering parking deck rates to 75 cents per hour.
Meanwhile, Easton has installed regular smart meters in many Downtown locations, and additionally added an automated pay box that accepts credit and debit cards, as well as cash at one of its parking lots with the stated intention of adding more in the future. A meter rate increase to $1 per hour has been suggested as one option to help pay for the Easton Main Street and Ambassadors program, though officials have said no changes will be made to the parking system until the parking study is complete, sometime next spring.