Free parking in downtown Rochester ramps extended through March

(ABC 6 News) – The Rochester City Council has voted to extend the free parking program at City owned parking ramps through the end of March.

Rochester Public Transit issued this press release Friday:

February 18, 2022 – Rochester, Minn. – Hearing a positive response from downtown retailers to last year’s expansion of the free parking program at City owned parking ramps, the City Council has approved an extension of that program through the end of March. The program states that during regular business hours there is no charge for parking sessions under two hours in municipal ramps.

In the past the city waived the parking charges if patrons were in and out of city-owned garages in under one hour. Last June, Council voted to extend the time allowed for a free session to two hours, encouraging Downtown visitors to take a little extra time and visit a retail, dining, or entertainment establishment. It is always free to park at meters or in ramps on evenings and weekends in Downtown Rochester.

“We have received positive comments from downtown retailers and their customers,” says Transit and Parking Systems Manager Ia Xiong. “Investing for a bit longer in this program is something we are financially able to do, thanks in large part to continued availability of COVID-19 relief funds.”

The expanded free parking program was developed after a series of listening sessions with Downtown business held last summer. The group expressed the need to stimulate activity in the city’s core after such a long period of restrictions due to COVID-19.

The City of Rochester provides thousands of on-street, surface lot, and ramp parking spaces for visitors and commuters. Parking policies help increase availability short-term parking for visitors. New touchless parking meters that accept credit cards are now in place and being tested, in the latest effort to provide convenient payment options.

To take advantage of the expanded free parking period, parkers must enter and exit in under two hours. Customers may stay beyond two hours but will be responsible for parking charges that will include the cost of the first two hours.

Downtown visitors taking advantage of free evening and weekend parking in ramps should exit by 3 a.m. to avoid an overnight parking charge.