With the Philadelphia Parking Authority now working longer hours for the good of the people, here's one of those shiny geegaws to show just where the cheapest and handiest places are to stow your wheels.
Best Parking.com looks pretty bare bones, but it's got its charms.
You tell it the general vicinity where you want to park your car -- by the hour or by the month -- and then it shows you the closest lots and garages, and let's you compare prices.
One of the niftier aspects is that it lets you click various attractions, like the University of Pennsylvania, where I've got to drive today, and then up comes a map that asks me to tell it what times I'll be parking. It then shows my best bet to be a $15 garage at Market and 38th.
Ok, that is a bad demonstration. It doesn't show the closer lot by the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and why wouldn't I just load $3 into meters for three hours?
It does better when searching monthly parking.
Let's say I work at Broad and Callowhill (what a stretch) and want to stash the mini van in a lot while I type away.
Here it really shines. I could pay $180 at that lot across the street, but why not walk another block to 12th & Callowhill and save $80 a month?
In addition to showing the Center City lots and garages on an interactive map, it lists the nearest garages by cost. Which shows I could be parting with $325-a-month if I wanted to put it at 18th & Cherry.
The site started in New York, and had spread to Philly and Boston. A Wall Street Journal article from this summer reports that those with mobile phones and PDAs can visit the site for daily specials, real time.