SCRANTON, Pa. -- Customers of several downtown Scranton businesses will soon no longer have a fast and free way to park.
As the city overhauls its parking system, officials are eliminating free 15-minute parking zones.
The city of Scranton started taking those signs out this week in favor of a new system that officials say will be fairer.
People looking to pick up takeout at Pizza by Pappas in downtown Scranton can pull in to a parking spot for a few minutes without having to pay. The owners say they pay the city for the sign, a perk they waited a long time for.
"It actually took us decades to get it before they actually approved it," said Bill Sheakoski, Pizza by Pappas.
But the timed free parking signs are not as rare as you may think. There are dozens of them downtown, so many that city officials thought it was getting out of hand.
"Well, first of all, we sort of had a proliferation of 15-minute parking signs throughout the downtown. Some were authorized, some weren't authorized, so what we're doing is removing those signs," said Scranton Mayor Wayne Evans.
Mayor Evans says the city has been working with the nonprofit Scranton Tomorrow to design a new system.
There will be 11 loading zones available to all downtown businesses for loading and unloading purposes only.
"I know people, if they want to park and pick something up, they want to park in front of the business they're going to, not necessarily at a designated spot that's half a block away, especially since we have a lot of cold winters. People like to come in and then go home," said Sheakoski.
Businesses we talked to were most concerned about their customers' convenience and believe the public will park in the loading zones anyway.
"If there's one right near us, that would be nice because a lot of our customers, even though they do like to browse, some of them do just run in and leave. If not, that's fine, most of our customers tend to find us," said David Romeo Jr., Comics on the Green.
City officials say eliminating the timed free spots will make it fairer for the businesses, and of course, encourage parkers to pay for parking. That system is changing, too.
"This is all part of the kiosk program, all part of getting into the 21st century, and I think it's going to work out in the long run for everyone," Evans added.
City officials will remove the free parking signs over the next few weeks as they also get rid of parking meters and replace them with parking kiosks.