(TNS) — Savannah, Ga.'s, city parking plan continues to generate complaints from downtown workers paying more as a result of this year's rate hikes.
Erik Wagenaar, who works at the SEED Eco Lounge, said he was glad to recently learn about a $35 monthly evening parking pass at the city's garages now that parking on the street cost $2 an hour.
"We're already working for tips," Wagenaar said. "You're making us pay double now."
In addition to trying to lure drivers to the city's garages with lower rates, the city is also looking at providing additional transportation options that take advantage of today's technologies as part of the overall parking plan.
Another transportation service could be useful for those workers who park farther away where parking is cheaper, said Matao Carpenter, general manager at The Portal arcade bar and deli on Broughton St.
Despite paying up to $24 some days to park, Carpenter said he still prefers to drive rather than take the existing downtown shuttle because it does not run late enough, stops are far away and he doesn't want to be dependent on it running on time.
"When I get off of work, the last thing I want to worry about is a commute on top of a commute," he said.
The city recently received three responses after requesting proposals to provide regular and on-demand transportation services for late-night workers and for seniors who live downtown.
City staff will next evaluate the proposals from Via Mobility, Downtowner, and Chatham Area Transit, before deciding whether to present a contract to the Savannah City Council for consideration.
Details of the proposals are not made public until after the evaluation process, but the services are meant to further encourage residents and workers to use alternative forms of transportation due to increases in parking rates and enforcement hours, according to the request for proposals issued by the city.
Both Downtowner and Via provide transportation services that are summoned using a smart-phone app, similar to Uber and Lyft, although the rides are often shared with others heading in the same direction.
CAT, the local public transit service, currently operates the senior shuttle that serves two large senior apartment complexes in downtown along with one that is just outside of the downtown area in West Savannah.
Some of the residents at the Rose of Sharon senior apartment complex were not too thrilled to learn last week that the city is considering replacing the shuttle that comes on an hourly basis, even if it is an on-demand service that would come when summoned.
Betty Williams got off the shuttle with a bag of groceries last week and said she was concerned with the potential change.
"I like the bus service we have now," Williams said. "The bus drivers are friendly."
Another resident, Marie Gaines, said the shuttle can get crowded with grocery bags and walkers, but a potential on-demand service did not impress her either.
"It ain't all that hot," she said. "You don't know who is who."
And Cleveland Barnes said he and many of the other residents have gotten used to the shuttle, which has operated in partnership with the city for 10 years.
"If they change it, they're going to be a lot of upset people," Barnes said.
The senior shuttle carries about 1,200 seniors per month using a fixed route. But a fixed route is not the most efficient form of transportation and the city is seeking proposals to replace the shuttle services provided to those senior centers, according to city officials.
City officials are also planning on extending the hours of the downtown shuttle. And on Thursday the Savannah City Council will consider borrowing $33 million by issuing bonds for a parking garage east of the Historic District in the Savannah River Landing development. Parking revenue is also going towards dedicated Savannah police security at all of the garages.
©2018 Savannah Morning News (Savannah, Ga.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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