PlanPhilly

Parking Authority cleared 350 snowy streets, took to Twitter

Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) did more than issue tickets and testify about the state of Philadelphia cabs this winter, the authority was also busy helping remove snow from approximately 350 neighborhood streets. 

In past years, the City has asked PPA to use its Bobcat equipment to clear neighborhood streets that the City’s plows cannot fit down. Each storm, the City would issue a list of streets that needed cleaning, but this year, PPA took things to the next level. Instead of being assigned streets to clear on a storm-by-storm basis, PPA was designated full responsibility for clearing 350 neighborhood streets. 

“This year we had designated streets that actually they asked us to handle, where in the past … they would call and tell us where to go on each snowstorm, but now this time we have actually [designated] streets and maps,” said Corinne O’Connor, PPA deputy executive director. 

PPA used real-time data to track which of the 350 streets needed plowing, and according to the PPA blog it only took 30 seconds for trucks to receive those data updates.  

Throughout the winter, 52 employees were on snow and ice removal duty. They cleared 54 neighborhood parking lots, five rail station parking lots and three surface lots.

“Basically, we’re tired,” O’Connor said. 

She said it is too soon to know how much this winter has cost the PPA in terms of snow removal efforts, days the meters were not enforced and reduced rates at area parking garages during snow emergencies. 

“We’re not finished our fiscal year yet, but we’re definitely going to see a difference,” she said. 

SNOW EMERGENCIES, SOCIAL MEDIA

During the snow storms when Philadelphians were asked to remove their cars from snow emergency routes, the PPA offered discounted, $5 parking rates at eight of its garages. To let people know about the offer, PPA’s social media team (run by ChatterBlast Media) took to Twitter and Facebook.  

“We did use Facebook and Twitter quite extensively to blast that message out there, and after we did that the first time … people, when snow was being predicted, people would ask us on Facebook and Twitter all the time,” said Erica Palan, an account manager at ChatterBlast Media. 

ChatterBlast has been working with PPA for a couple years now. They have had plans to use social media during severe winter-weather events, but they haven’t had the chance.

“The last several winters in Philadelphia have not been particularly bad, so they haven’t hand the opportunity,” Palan said. 

During this winter’s storms, PPA also shared info from other city agencies, including SEPTA, the Philadelphia Streets Department and the Office of Emergency Management

Palan said it’s important for customers to know that there are people behind the PPA social media accounts that can get customers the info they need. 

“Definitely ask questions on Facebook, on Twitter,” she said. “If you ask a question, there’s a good chance that it’s going to get answered, and I think that’s particularly relevant during the bad weather.”


About the author

Christine Fisher, Transportation reporter

From 2012-2014 Christine covered transportation, writing about everything from pedestrian concerns to bicycle infrastructure, bridges, trail networks, public transit and more. Her favorite assignments sent her bushwhacking through Philadelphia’s yet-to-be-cleared bike trails, catching a glimpse of SEPTA’s inner workings or pounding the pavement to find out what pedestrians really think. Christine also covered community news for Eyes on the Street, where her work ranged from food sovereignty to public art and urban greening. She first joined PlanPhilly in fall 2011 as an intern through a partnership with Temple University’s Philadelphia Neighborhoods website. 



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