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Downtown Syracuse is rising, parking options follow

Ellen Abbott

The parking landscape is changing in the city of Syracuse. Part of it is due to technology, and part of it due to the resurgence of downtown as a destination.

On-street parking in downtown Syracuse has changed dramatically in recent years. Gone are the standalone silver parking meters waiting for change. Instead, visitors are now accustomed to the big brown pay stations that take cash or credit cards and spit out a receipt for the dashboard.

The latest innovation, in place for a year now, gets rid of that step. Whoosh! is an app that can pay parking stations via a smartphone.

Syracuse Department of Public Works Commissioner Pete O’Connor says after some initial kinks getting used to the system, about five percent of the parking activity in Syracuse goes through Whoosh!  

“We put it in citywide and the numbers have been going up every month since we’ve done that,” O’Connor says. “And we are impressed with the way it’s going."

Not surprisingly, the numbers really jumped during Syracuse’s cold and snowy winter.

“You don’t have to get out of your car. You don’t have to deal with snowbanks. You don’t have to deal with the wind and the cold," O’Connor says.

Through June there have been almost 44,000 Whoosh! transactions with parking revenue reaching almost $83,000.

The Syracuse University area is one place the app is really taking off. And O’Connor expects a new initiative by the end of the year that will allow college students to use their student ID cards to pay for parking.

“We’re going to be able to do that with Whoosh!,” O’Connor says. “You’re going to be able to pay for your parking with a student card issued from SU, Le Moyne or OCC.”

O’Connor says Whoosh! is also growing downtown, which is experiencing a renaissance of sorts with new businesses and apartment complexes moving in. That means the city is looking for more on street parking spaces.

"As development comes in and we see that there is need for more parking, we look at them, then we add spots on,” O’Connor says.

A good example of that was adding parking on both sides (instead of one side) of Warren Street. And by the end of the month, O’Conner expects more parking stations will be added on West Washington Street near the Federal Building.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.