Be warned all ye who enter here. Here be money-eating dragons.

While I’m writing this season’s very first What They’re Really Thinking, why don’t you go read my little note to City Council?

I particularly hope that City Council reads it and does something about it, assuming they can.

My pet peeve is that when I have a meeting downtown, or perhaps an event, and I find myself driving around various city blocks for the nearest affordable parking garage that won’t virtually reach into my car, steal my purse, rip my wallet out, take all my cash, and then roll around naked in it howling, “ALL YOUR DOLLARS ARE BELONG TO US,” I find that many, if not most garages and lots do not post their hourly rates on the outsides of the entrances, but rather deep into the entrances.

Read the rest of the letter here. Have you had a similar experience with downtown garages? Has anyone EVER been brave enough to back up once entered?


  1. Chris
    September 13, 2010 9:38 am

    Not with downtown garages but I nearly got into a fight with the guy at one of the lots in the Strip. (the one that now looks at Right by Nature.) We pulled in on Super Bowl weekend to do our shopping. Sign said $5 flat rate. When we went to leave the guy said $10..hubby and I were like “what!?!” Fortunately, we actually had the $10 and the guy let us out…have never parked there again.

  2. dand
    September 13, 2010 9:49 am

    I’ve never had this problem. Seems most of the garages and certainly all of the Parking Authority ones have pretty prominent signs outside the entrance.

    And you know what would happen if they mandated lower rates? More traffic on the parkways. If they’re going to invest more in transportation, it should be about improving public transit so more people would take it instead of driving.

  3. IveHadIt
    September 13, 2010 10:06 am

    Signs are not the problem if you ask me. The prices in general are. You really shouldn’t have to “price shop” at all to park. Did you know that in Columbus or Cincinnati, you can park there for less than half of what we pay in Pittsburgh. I’d say we are getting to be pretty competitive with NYC. Sad.

  4. Michele
    September 13, 2010 10:31 am

    I believe most garages downtown have a 15 minute grace period before you are charged. My sister lives downtown and if I am picking something up she usually just meets me in the garage so that I can pull in and then pull back out shortly after. I haven’t ever had to pay anything in those instances. So, I guess you could just go into the garage and if you think it is too pricey then just drive back out.

  5. unsatisfied
    September 13, 2010 10:44 am

    well, you could just assume that ALL downtown garages are going to be pound-me-in-the-ass expensive….

  6. Monty
    September 13, 2010 10:51 am

    If NASA ends up getting shutdown, you could probably get a good deal on an old Mars Rover. Just idle out front and send one in to photograph the parking menu.

  7. T
    September 13, 2010 11:09 am

    YES! This happened to me on Friday. I passed by all of the garages I was already familiar with and they were all full. So I pulled into the PNC parking garage because I was worried I would be late for my meeting and it was $19 to park for a freaking hour. Ridiculous.

  8. PK
    September 13, 2010 11:11 am

    I made the mistake of parking in the garage next to PNC park for a game because I was running late and was meeting friends. I figured it would be the easiest because they have those automated attendant machines in the lobby and I forgot to stop at an ATM. SILLY ME! They wanted cash up front at the gate, after I had already pulled in with no signs saying “Yo, cash only tonight.”

    From then on I made sure to leave extra time to park in Theater Square since you don’t have to pay on entering, it’s half the price and you get a nice walk across the bridge (and the Backstage Bar, a place to drink your cares away while you’re waiting for the garage to empty out).

  9. Kim
    September 13, 2010 11:37 am

    Living in Chicago I have no pity for you. I was appalled when we first moved here and my husband needed to get his iPod fixed. We should have driven out to the ‘burbs to do it since going to the Apple Store on the Mag Mile forced us into a $17/hour lot. I now look back at the times I got angry about what I paid to park in the Cultural District, and I laugh at myself.

  10. nobody
    September 13, 2010 11:38 am

    “Crazy” parking costs is what happens when people insist on moving to the suburbs because of “the taxes.” The city still houses a lot of businesses where the suburban people work, but the city gets shorted on the payroll tax and property tax of employees who live outside city limits.

    The money to run the city (cops, fire fighters, garbage collection) has to come from somewhere. If the money does not come from payroll deductions or property taxes, it will come from things like parking lots, entertainment taxes, surcharges on concert tickets, and what have you…

  11. Amanda
    September 13, 2010 11:39 am

    I worked for a parking company in their office for almost 6 years. In some cases, the people running the garage do not get to set their rates. Most times they are set by the owners of the garage and the attendants and managers are contractors. The prices also include the parking tax imposed by the city of Pittsburgh. At this point in time, it is a 37.5% tax. Most places allow a grace time for exiting the garage if you don’t wish to park there. The average is about 10 minutes. That way you don’t have to back out and you can still exit with all limbs intact.

  12. maninblack
    September 13, 2010 11:59 am


    No offense, but you could have taken a bus/the El from virtually anywhere in the city to Michigan Ave. 2 bucks. Pittsburgh doesn’t have those kind of public transportation options. I have no pity for you. Pittsburgh has the highest parking taxes in the country and everyone drives everywhere because their public transporation is virtually nonexistant.

  13. OldNorthSider
    September 13, 2010 12:52 pm

    @ nobody! You must be one of Lukey’s minions ;).
    I used to live in and work for the City of Pittsburgh until the City sacrificed good government for ‘good’ politics. I did not escape the City for taxes — I believe taxes are necessary for a civil & just society. BTW, I gladly paid the City nearly $2100 last year in parking/amusement taxes! I think that is more than my fair share.

  14. Pensgirl
    September 13, 2010 1:09 pm

    Ginny, I have also found many garages both in Pittsburgh and in other cities where you have to take a chance and turn in to see any prices. I’ve even seen situations where there aren’t any prices once you turn in. I have backed up on occasion, though not when I get boxed in by waiting vehicles. Totally agree the signs should be in plain view from the street.

  15. gunnlino
    September 13, 2010 1:22 pm

    As I said before, this the the biggest reason I DO NOT go into Pittsburgh for any reason if I have to park.
    Pittsburgh gets none of my money for any reason whatsoever.

    Are ya readin’ this Lukey ?

  16. Al Lambrini
    September 13, 2010 1:42 pm

    Actually, parking in Pittsburg seems cheap compared to Philly, NYC or Boston, DC . When I drive I park in convention center for 12 bucks a day or in the Westin for 10 (when they run the early bird special) you can park in the strip lots for between $5 and 7 I mean try doing that on Manhattan or inside Center city Philly in in the fed district of DC. If that is too steep for your flow, ride Aunt Pat for $4 a day seems fairly reasonable to me

  17. nobody
    September 13, 2010 2:58 pm

    I’m not a minion, I’m a city resident. That $2100 you “gladly” paid is more than the property tax on my house. You paid that, in addition to your property tax in the suburbs. My calculations back there didn’t even include how much gasoline money you spend sitting in traffic at a bridge or tunnel.

    More than anything, I’m questioning the “wisdom” of living in the suburbs for the “city taxes are too high” argument. Live where you want.

    As for the mention of how much it costs to live in other east coast cities, you are dead on target. People around here bitch to high heaven about “taxes being too high.” They don’t know a THING about high tax rates.

    Try moving to the greater NYC area, which now has spread into the eastern third of PA. You can multiply your current property tax by a factor of five or six in many cases.

  18. Steverino
    September 13, 2010 3:26 pm

    The cheapest garages to park are the Parking Authority garages. They all have the same logo signage at the entrance, so they’re easy to identify. I haven’t found the rates to be outlandish whenever I have to go downtown for a meeting. I often park in the First Avenue garage adjacent to the subway station and take the subway to the centre city for free.

  19. malbrec92
    September 13, 2010 3:32 pm

    LMAO! Every comment on your Pgh Mag post has been flagged. Children, children! Let’s all take a deep breath and Grow TFU!

  20. General Zod
    September 13, 2010 4:01 pm

    learn to fly already. lazy humans.

  21. Erin
    September 13, 2010 4:33 pm

    I backed out of a garage downtown once. It took forever for the four cars behind me to move, though… I had to argue with a lot of angry people to explain that they were either moving their cars or we were all going to sit there for a very long time. So people will move. Just not easily.

  22. OldNorthSider
    September 13, 2010 4:46 pm

    @ nobody. People left/leave the city because the schools stunk/stink. Not because of parking. Politicians won’t raise city taxes or charge for trash collection because they want to be re-elected.

  23. Steverino
    September 13, 2010 4:48 pm

    Really, people need to relax. If you’re going downtown and live in the city or an inner suburb, public transport to and from downtown is excellent all day long, especially if you live near the T or one of the three busways. It’s $2.75 round-trip if you are going to be less than three hours. The 75 cent transfer is good for your ride home. Otherwise it’s $4 round-trip.

  24. windy city steel city
    September 13, 2010 6:15 pm

    @kim> I feel ya! Try to park at Chicago Title and Trust for an hour, its $22 and that was in 2008 before I moved back to Western PA.

  25. Padzman
    September 14, 2010 6:22 am

    A one word cure for this and o so many other problems…bicycle.

  26. Angry Mongo
    September 14, 2010 8:03 am

    I love cheap parking and sunshine and my mom

  27. Angry Mongo
    September 14, 2010 8:04 am

    and I’m also an idiot. Doh.