Camden is making 8,500 parking spots on the Delaware River waterfront available for the private vehicles of papal pilgrims. That space had been reserved for charter bus parking.
According to the World Meeting of Families, those buses will park at the sports stadium complex in South Philadelphia so travelers can more easily access Center City via SEPTA’s subway.
The news, announced Wednesday, means thousands of pilgrims hoping to drive to the Philadelphia area to see Pope Francis will have an easier time finding a parking space close to the action.
Parking passes must be purchased in advance at a website set up to help pilgrims traveling through Camden on their way to Philadelphia.
The online registration process is convenient for travelers and also helpful to public safety officials, according to Easy Philadelphia partner Bernard Craighead.
“Certain security measures have been built into this so that we will know who’s driving the car, what color the car is, what the license plate is. And that way we will know who’s coming into the lot,” he said.
Passes cost $30 plus tax per vehicle per day. Lots open at 6 a.m. on the Saturday and Sunday of the pope’s visit and close at 2 a.m. the following morning.
The website will also use drivers’ addresses to suggest the best routes to the waterfront, as well as help travelers plan their next step once they park in Camden. Options include taking PATCO, riding the RiverLink Ferry, or trekking across the Ben Franklin Bridge.
Camden Mayor Dana Redd announced that 8,500 parking spaces will be available on the Camden waterfront for private vehicles during the World Meeting of Families this month. (Joe Hernandez/WHYY)
The City Hall press conference Wednesday struck a much more inviting tone than previous meetings, in which officials warned locals to avoid the area in anticipation of overwhelming traffic and transit congestion.
“Unfortunately, some of the rollout of this event has discouraged people, caused some confusion and angst amongst those who would want to go see the pope,” said Camden County Freeholder Director Louis Capelli.
“Our message here today is: If you want to see the pope, a great place to start on that journey is right here in Camden City and Camden County.”
PATCO also announced that it would be selling tickets in stations on the Saturday and Sunday of the pope’s visit. RiverLink Ferry riders will have to buy tickets in advance.