New Policies Will Improve Access to Parking for Downtown Visitors and Employees

Two Hours Free at Marketplace Garage Replaced with Employee Parking and Merchant Validation Programs on April 1

Burlington, Vt. (March 22, 2021) – Starting April 1, new public parking policies are being implemented to improve access to parking for downtown visitors and employees.  During busy times downtown, Marketplace Garage is often closed multiple times a week and sometimes several times a day.  To provide more access to the popular Marketplace Garage spaces and the high demand spaces around Church Street, the following adjustments are being made:

  • Incentivizing downtown employees to park at the Lakeview/College St Garage through a free parking program for restaurant/retail/service workers in the Downtown Improvement District. The program is designed to add a benefit for these workers and also help business owners in the service industry attract and retain staff. Additionally, the program seeks to free up spaces at the meters and in the Marketplace Garage by incentivizing workers to park in an under-utilized facility, thus relieving some of the load on Burlington’s most popular parking. Eligibility requirements can be found here and the sign up form is available here.
  • Launching new validation program for downtown businesses and organizations to offer free parking to their customers and clients. This provides another tool for Downtown businesses to attract customers and support the vibrancy of Downtown. The merchant validation program will be available to any business in the downtown that wants to pay for their customers’ parking. Merchants will be able to find eligibility requirements and sign up details at in early April.
  • Maintaining 2 Hours Free at Lakeview/College St Garage for all parkers. The 2 Hours Free Program is financially supported by fees paid by businesses in the Downtown Improvement District.  Providing a convenient and low cost (or free) parking option is an important component of the Downtown parking strategy.
  • Removing 2 Hours Free at Marketplace Garage as of April 1. By encouraging value-driven parkers to use Lakeview/College St Garage, it will help to free up parking at the Marketplace Garage and help first-time visitors find spaces more easily.

These programs work together make parking more convenient and accessible for visitors to Burlington, merchants and their staff.

In July of 2020 the Department of Public Works (DPW) Commission approved a change to the retail rate at the Marketplace Garage, replacing “2 Hours Free” with $1 per hour for the first two hours (rates remain unchanged beyond 2 hours).

Due to the impacts of COVID-19, implementation of the rate change was delayed from July to January 2021 and again to April 1, 2021. Additionally, this change was conditioned on the adoption of an Employee Parking Program for Downtown Restaurant/Retail/Service workers and a Merchant Validation Program. The Employee Parking Program was approved on March 17 DPW Commission meeting, clearing the way for the rate change, the Merchant Validation Program and the Employee Parking program to all start in April.

“These changes have been in the works for many years and are critical to support the businesses and workers that contribute to the vitality of downtown as well as the financial sustainability of the garages,” said Department of Public Works Division Director of Parking and Traffic, Jeff Padgett.

“In the high season, Marketplace Garage is often closed 2 or 3 times per day, 3-4 days a week because it reaches capacity, with 80 percent of those people parking for free,” said Padgett. “This represents a loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and directly impacts our ability to keep up with maintenance and repairs. We expect the funds generated from this rate change to enable us to vastly improve the parking experience for all.”

“Parking is the first and last experience folks have when they come downtown. DPW’s new rate plan should make it easier for shoppers and visitors to park in downtown’s most popular garage,” said Kelly Devine, executive director at the Burlington Business Association. “Adding free parking for service sector employers at the Lakeview/College Street Garage will hopefully free up space for customers and make it easier to fill the many service jobs downtown.”


Park Burlington is a public / private partnership between the Department of Public Works and the Burlington Business Association which involves many community partners and stakeholders. Its mission is to improve the parking and transportation dynamics in Burlington, Vermont.