CHARLOTTE, N.C. Uptown workers are already feeling the impact of the Democratic National Convention on their wallets.
Some parking companies began edging up daily rates by a few dollars as early as last Tuesday, customers say, and some are warning of higher rates ahead.
Uptown boosters predict daily parking rates could reach $30 or higher as the convention unfolds.
Its not right, said one uptown worker, who asked not to be identified. Everyone related to the DNC is in hotels and walking near the Time Warner Arena. The only people parking are workers, who have to eat it.
DNC security measures during the week will curtail curbside parking on many uptown streets and close nearly 50 parking lots and garages in uptown.
Motorists are being warned that uptown neighborhoods will be monitored during DNC events to keep driveways clear.
The Better Business Bureau also warns that towing companies enforce parking restrictions 24 hours a day, whether a business is open or closed. And towing fees can reach $120 a day, plus additional storage fees of $15 a day.
City officials have made no secret of the fact that parking might be a challenge during the DNC, particularly during Mondays free CarolinaFest celebration.
Meanwhile, there is no city ordinance governing how much private parking companies can raise their rates, so the market will dictate prices.
Calls to parking companies in uptown were not returned Friday, with the exception of Standard Parking. Kerry Beck at Standard said the company did not intend to raise rates during the DNC, despite losing 2,800 spaces due to the security measures.
Here are some alternatives to parking uptown during the DNC:
Taking the Lynx
Mass transit is an alternative, but even there parking could be a concern.
The Charlotte Area Transit System has 3,262 free parking spaces along the Lynx light rail line, as well as 43 bus park and ride lots. CATS officials say they intend to monitor those park-and-ride lots and communicate to customers when theyre full.
The lot at Sharon Road West is the smallest of the Lynx lots and fills up the fastest, officials say.
Some businesses along South Boulevard have put out signs offering DNC parking along the LYNX line, for prices reportedly as high as $25.
Taking the bus
CATS bus riders should check for new signs at their bus stops alerting them to temporary route changes during the DNC.
CATS began adding signage to uptown bus stops on Friday. Riders should check the bus stop signs for appropriate pick up and drop-off locations.
Some center city stops will be relocated or temporarily discontinued due to street closures. Some bus stop changes will be in place starting Sunday. However, most of the bus re-routing and stop changes will happen Monday through Thursday.
Signs will include route numbers, relocated bus stops, temporarily closed stops and Gold Rush stops, said Larry Kopf, CATS chief operations planning officer and manager of bus operations.
Buses will run on their regular schedules, but passengers should expect some delays and allow for extra travel time, Kopf said.
CATS will offer 24 bus routes into uptown for CarolinaFest, and several bus routes connecting to the Lynx Blue Line. In addition, CATS will offer more free parking options on that day. For details on those parking areas, visit DNCinfo.CharlotteNC.gov
Joe Marusak contributed