CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte drivers will no longer have free on-street parking in Uptown and South End starting this weekend.
Beginning Saturday, March 25, drivers will have to pay to park in metered spaces in both areas. The current rate is $1.50 per hour for metered spaces. Paid Saturday parking was originally expected to start last September but was pushed back to March 2023 for further assessment of the public parking system.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea, I think parking should be free at least on the weekend," Matthews resident Ronny Peguero said.
Mayor Vi Lyles said this will encourage more people to use public transit. Councilman Tariq Bokhari was against the plan, saying Charlotte's public transit isn't strong enough to handle increased demand.
Some people WCNC Charlotte spoke to said Charlotte's public transit system isn't strong enough. Charlotte resident Tiffany Shockley said it still needs a lot of work.
“It’s not accessible to everyone and they also have to take into consideration as there is so much sprawl," Shockley said.
The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) has since come under public scrutiny over a 2022 light rail derailment that wasn't publicly reported until March. The Metropolitan Transit Commission voted unanimously this week to ask Charlotte City Council to hire a third-party consultant to investigate CATS' bus and rail operations, its maintenance procedures and safety requirements.
CDOT said paid parking gives better access to local businesses by increasing turnover on busy days. But Jeremy Pineda, who works at Pet Wants on Camden Road, said most of their customers already walk, so he's unsure if it'll make a big difference for the business.
“I don’t think it’ll be noticeable," Pineda said. "I feel like it’ll be touch-and-go."
In addition to bumping the hourly rate from $1 to $1.50, Charlotte also changed how drivers pay for parking. The city started phasing out meters in South End last summer, forcing drivers to use their smartphones to pay.
"It's fairly simple," Tyler Hickey, a resident of South End, said. "Once you figure it out, it's not that bad."
City officials said that paid parking on Saturdays will generate an estimated $700,000 in revenue. The city says the revenue will go toward street maintenance and transportation goals.
Eric Zaverl, Urban Design Specialist with Sustain Charlotte, says this change has been long overdue.
“It’s a smart move overall for everyone," Zaverl said.
He also believes the turnover in parking will increase safety for pedestrians.
“There’s always a spot available, you don’t have to drive around the blocks several times," Zaverl said. "It becomes dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists when you have drivers trying to find an empty spot."
The City of Charlotte has big goals with its Strategic Mobility Plan, to reduce one-person vehicles to half of all transportation trips by 2040. There is hope that paid parking on Saturdays will urge people to try different types of mobility.
Still, some Charlotte residents say they're unsure.
“I think there’s always a draw to have your cars and drive and I don’t think that’s an obtainable goal," John Berglund said.