PHILADELPHIA – Mayor Kenney today announced that City departments and agencies will offer flexibility in bill payments to federal workers affected by the partial shutdown of the U.S. government.
“Tens of thousands of federal employees live and work in Philadelphia, and we know some are already struggling,” said Mayor Kenney. “Martin Luther King Jr. understood that the civil rights movement and the drive for workers’ rights are forever intertwined. On this day honoring his legacy, I pledge that the City will do its best to ensure that these workers don’t have to worry about matters like paying their water or gas bills while they are going without a paycheck.”
Effective immediately, furloughed federal workers and those employees working without pay should contact the Department of Revenue, the Water Revenue Bureau, and Philadelphia Gas Works if they need additional flexibility in paying their bills — either to pay current bills or to fulfill existing payment agreements.
“If you reach out to us, we can delay enforcement actions, including water shut off and foreclosure,” said Revenue Commissioner Frank Breslin. “We can also waive interest, penalties, and any other charges that accrue once we receive payment when the shutdown ends. These workers need every break as the shutdown drags on, and we’re committed to doing what we can.”
Federal workers struggling to make ends meet can also take advantage of PGW’s assistance programs: ‘Payment Arrangements’ can ease the pressure on customers who fall behind, or are worried they might; ‘Budget Billing’ avoids surges in bills during winter heating season; and CARES provides payment assistance to residential customers with special circumstances, such as medical emergencies, unemployment or other temporary hardships.
“Options like these can make all the difference,” said PGW President and CEO Craig White. “Our goal is always to work with customers and give them as much support as we can, in order to keep their vital natural gas service on. Whether the need is temporary or ongoing, our experienced team is used to working with customers who are in tough financial situations.”
Affected workers who need help should call or email the addresses and numbers below, and identify yourself as federal worker. You may need to provide proof of federal employment, such as a W2, federal employee ID, or other documentation.
- For Water & Sewer Bills: email@example.com or (215) 685-6300
- For Gas Bills: @MyPGW on twitter, 215-235-1000 or find your nearest PGW customer center at pgworks.com/residential/contact-us/our-locations
- For Real Estate Tax: firstname.lastname@example.org or (215) 686-6442
- For all other City Taxes: email@example.com or (215) 686-6400
Federal workers who are furloughed or working without pay will also be eligible for consideration when paying tickets to the City. The Bureau of Administrative Adjudication (parking tickets) and the Office of Administrative Review (code violation notices) urge federal workers who face difficulty paying tickets or fines to schedule a hearing as specified on the ticket. Hearing officers have the discretion to offer relief to hardships by extending payment deadlines. Staff of both offices have been urged to exercise particular consideration for federal employees.
The Philadelphia Parking Authority Breaks Ground on New 210 Space Neighborhood Parking Lot in Old City
PPA Executive Director Scott Petri joined local Old City civic leaders today at the groundbreaking for a new 210 space neighborhood parking lot located under the Benjamin Franklin Bridge at the corner of 2nd & Florist Streets.
“The construction of this new 210 space parking lot will enhance the quality of life for local residents by providing convenient parking for local residents. The PPA is committed to providing the best customer service possible and working with local neighborhood groups to improve parking options for local residents,” Petri said.
“One of the guiding principles at the PPA is to provide safe, convenient, and cost effective parking options. As we move forward with this particular project, we are also exploring renovation and upgrade projects at other local neighborhood parking lots throughout the city,” Petri said.
Petri expressed special thanks to the Delaware River Port Authority, Franklin Bridge North Neighbors Inc., Councilman Mark Squilla and the Old City District.
Commenting on the anticipated new parking lot for local residents, Old City District CEO Job Itzkowitz said, “In its Vision2026 plan, Old City District advocated for increased multimodal opportunities for Old City, including additional bike lanes and pedestrian improvements, as well as parking and lighting under the bridge—something Old City residents and business owners have sought for decades.”
He continued, “Improvements to the space will generate several ancillary benefits, including making the area under the bridge feel safer at night via lighting and additional eyes and ears on the street, as well as better connecting the neighborhood north and south of the bridge. We are grateful that DRPA and PPA were able to make this space work for the community.”
The 210 space lot will be available to local residents on a monthly rental basis. The lot should be fully operational by the spring of 2019.
After an initial pilot program, the Philadelphia Parking Authority’s hugely popular meterUP pay by phone parking app is now available city-wide and can now be used at over 8,000 coin-operated meters and 975 kiosks throughout the city.
Commenting on the city wide availability of meterUP, PPA Executive Director Scott Petri said, “We are delighted this very popular and convenient mobile payment option is now available at all kiosks and meters throughout the city. Our customers now have the convenience of paying for parking or adding time remotely anywhere in the city – instead of having to continuously carry cash or coins.”
Hailed as a major PPA technological innovation aimed at improving customer service and convenience for motorists parking in Philadelphia, there have been over 1 million meterUP transactions and over 150,000 downloads since December 2017. The app has been widely embraced — receiving an IOS rating of 4.8 out of 8,200 reviews and a 4.5 Android rating out of 430 reviews at the App Store.
“Our goal with the city-wide expansion of meterUP is to further improve customer service and the overall parking experience in Philadelphia for residents and visitors alike. meterUP is a major step towards improving customer service and convenience through the use of innovation and technology,” Petri said.
The meterUP app allows drivers to pay for parking with a smartphone and remotely add more time to kiosks or coin-operated parking meters. Registration and use of meterUP is easy and saves customers time and money. Users can extend parking sessions remotely and stop time early to avoid wasting unused minutes. Customized parking expiration reminders and the ability to make prepayments are also features of meterUP.
Clearly marked signs and decals with zone numbers and directions on how to use meterUP are posted throughout the city. App users are encouraged to ensure their license plate numbers are correctly entered into their app profiles while referencing the correct meterUP zone numbers when making mobile payments.
The PPA has partnered with ParkMobile, LLC to power the meterUP app. With this mobile payment option available city-wide, both meterUP and ParkMobile are accepted for payment at all kiosks and coin-operated meters in Philadelphia – and conversely — meterUP can be used for payment in any locale in the country where ParkMobile is used and accepted
The International Association of Transportation Regulators Announces Zakaria Elbaroudi, from the City of Philadelphia, as 2018 International Driver of the Year
The IATR is pleased to announce that it has selected Zakaria Elbaroudi, certified Taxicab Driver in the City of Philadelphia, as 2018 International Driver of the Year. The IATR’s Driver of the Year Award is recognition by government transportation professionals to a driver who has provided excellent service to passengers, and has likewise performed in an extraordinary manner that exemplifies the highest level of the profession.
Zakaria has been a certified taxicab driver in Philadelphia since January 2007. During his last 11 years as a taxicab driver, Zakaria has exhibited hard work and dedication to his profession. He has a clean regulatory record and not a single complaint has been filed against him. William Schmid, the Deputy Director of the Taxicab and Limousine Division of the Philadelphia Parking Authority, nominated Zakaria, not only for his impeccable record and impressive work ethic, but his drive to go above and beyond in his duty.
One story in particular shows his dedication to the profession, along with his strong moral and ethical compass. On several occasions, Zakaria was called upon to service an elderly man who lives in South Philadelphia for transportation to the grocery store, doctor appointments and occasionally the bank. On February 10, 2018, Zakaria received one such call and took the gentleman to the doctor and then to the bank. On the trip home the customer reported to the driver that he could not find $1,500 in cash that he had just withdrawn from the bank. Zakaria returned to the bank with the man and searched the car, but could not find the money.
The following day, Zakaria and his partner decided to do a much more thorough search of their vehicle. They unbolted the backseat from the floor where they found the missing cash. When Zakaria went to return the money to the elderly passenger he was informed that the passenger had passed away. Zakaria immediately returned the money to the Taxicab and Limousine Division after which the money was able to be returned to the estate executor. “Zakaria Elbouradi showed his natural ability to do the right thing, setting a positive example for professional drivers everywhere,” said IATR President Matt Daus, “and we are pleased to acknowledge his conduct and career accomplishments by presenting him with the 2018 IATR Driver of the Year Award.”
The taxicab industry is struggling to gain and maintain public confidence, and the actions of Zakaria Elbaroudi deserve to be recognized. His honesty and dedication are an example to his fellow drivers and a credit to this industry. “Zakaria exhibited care, compassion and a strong desire to do the right thing rather than attempt to profit from another’s misfortune. These are stellar qualities everyone should emulate.” Said IATR chairman, Jim Ney.
Zakaria works on a full-time daily basis by leasing a taxicab with another driver. He shares a lease on medallion taxicab P-0151 and like many other taxicab drivers, struggles to make ends meet. He currently resides in New Jersey with his wife and two children.
About The International Association of Transportation Regulators
The International Association of Transportation Regulators (IATR) is a non-profit organization serving and educating government transportation officials globally since 1987. IATR is growing peer group of taxi, limousine and for-hire transportation regulators, dedicated to improving the practice of licensing, enforcement and administration of for-hire transportation through the sharing of information and resources. For further information, visit IATR’s website at www.iatr.global.
PPA Executive Director: Fatal NY Limo Accident a Reminder that more Oversight Needed for Uber, Lyft too
The deaths of 20 people in a limousine accident in New York last weekend shocked us all. The reports of basic safety failures by that limousine company dovetail with concerns I have raised about the current state of regulatory oversight in Philadelphia.
Recent state legislation called Act 164 banned the practice of inspecting taxicabs once every six months and now limits those inspections to only once every four years. Those inspections commonly revealed frightening safety violations. Act 164 even removed the regulator from the process of doing background checks on taxicab drivers. Drivers are now issued their official three-month driving certification without any training or regulatory review.
While we have all embraced the convenience of ride-sharing services, those private vehicles are subject to almost no inspections. They are never subject to a pre-service inspection and less than 5 percent of transportation network company vehicles are inspected in any year. Regulators in Philadelphia do not certify ride-share drivers. Regulators do not know who is out there driving or even which vehicle is engaged in ride-share services.
Unfortunately, the trend away from safety regulation has now reached the limousine industry. At the behest of limousine owners, the Pennsylvania House recently passed House Bill 2473, which will cut limousine regulatory funding. This cut will result in less safety enforcement. Act 164 has already reduced regulatory staffing by 55 percent to only 19 people. Those 19 people must attempt to regulate much more than 20,000 vehicles in Philadelphia. How much lower can that number go before there is effectively zero enforcement?
I recognize that most people who provide taxicab, ride-share, and limousine service try to do the right thing for their customers. But reasonable oversight is important for public safety.
The public has the right to demand that the “for hire” vehicles they enter every day adhere to best practices, including those related to safety and performance. We confirm that standards are met by inspecting and testing compliance with approved guidelines. To test compliance, the scope of regulatory review must be reasonable and the testing process must be adequately funded. Appropriate compliance testing is simply not happening in Philadelphia due to funding cuts and inspection prohibitions. Now is the time to address this issue. We cannot wait for a tragic accident to move us to action.
As a first step, HB 2473 should move no further toward becoming law; it will only weaken limousine safety regulation. Then, current vehicle inspection prohibitions should be eliminated and funding restored. Specifically, limousine assessments should remain unchanged or be modified to a surcharge of $2 per trip. The current ride-share and taxicab assessments should be eliminated and replaced with a 50-cent surcharge on each trip in Philadelphia. Other cities already use this surcharge, and it works.
If these steps are put in place, more frequent vehicle inspections and enhanced real-time enforcement on the street will happen. Enforcement officers have the ability to inspect limousines and other vehicles while in the course of service. If a vehicle is in an unsafe condition, the enforcement officer can place it out of service on the spot. That is the type of commonsense oversight that will generate compliance with commercial standards and may ultimately save lives.
Because the law directs two-thirds of ride-share assessments in Philadelphia to the School District, annual funding for our schools would also increase by nearly $10 million. I urge our legislators to focus on this vital public safety issue. I am willing to help in that process in any way.
Philadelphia Parking Authority
You might as well start preparing yourself for something a little frightening this fall because Eastern State Penitentiary’s Terror Behind the Walls is back, along with zombies, ghosts and ghouls lurking in every nook and cranny.
From Sept. 21 – Nov. 10, 2018 (Check this schedule for select dates) the historical prison opens up its haunted halls for the public to experience some of the scariest sights they have ever seen. Zombie prison guards, nurses, and prisoners will make it hard to fall asleep after this spooky experience. Don’t believe us? Play the video below to get a sneak peek.
Now, Onto Parking:
Thankfully, our 19th and Callowhill lot is just a few blocks away from Eastern State, and there’s no need to worry: Our lot has a strict “NO ZOMBIE ZONE” so parking won’t be a nightmare. If you do end up heading to the amped up history lesson at Eastern State, check out our parking rates below:
1901 Callowhill St.
Philadelphia, PA 19130
- Evening (enter after 5 p.m., exit by 6 a.m. Monday-Friday) – $9.00
- Weekends – $12.00 (flat rate per day)
(Photo Cred: Eastern State Penitentiary)