Only 500 of 17,000 available Camden parking spaces have been reserved for papal visit

 After parking in Camden, pilgrims can take the ferry, PATCO or walk across the Ben Franklin Bridge. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

After parking in Camden, pilgrims can take the ferry, PATCO or walk across the Ben Franklin Bridge. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

A week ago, Camden officials announced that the city would be offering 8,500 parking spots per day for visitors coming to see Pope Francis during his visit to Philadelphia on Saturday and Sunday.

As of today, only 500 of those 17,000 parking spaces have been claimed.

“The manner in which this event has been put out to the public by certain folks was not the most efficient way to do it, and I think it actually discouraged people from going,” said Camden County freeholder director Louis Cappelli.

Drivers hoping to park on the Camden waterfront have to buy a parking pass in advance on a website set up for the event.

Cappelli said the Internet traffic to buy parking passes has been increasing “hour by hour” and that officials expect a rush as the pope’s public events get closer.

After fees and taxes, each parking pass costs $43.78 per day.

“It’s just so much easier to park on the Camden waterfront, take the [PATCO] Speedline, take the ferry, or walk over the Ben Franklin Bridge if you’re in shape,” he said.

Although drivers have to register for passes in advance as a security measure, officials are considering allowing motoring pilgrims to park without signing up ahead of time.

Capelli says he hopes the faithful traveling to see Pope Francis in Philadelphia will consider making their pilgrimage through South Jersey.

“Just go see the pope. Go see him from the Jersey side,” he said.

“Don’t let all the early reports and agita people have developed over this affect you.”

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