It is officially Thanksgiving weekend and the holiday season is upon us. As usual, the City of New Bedford is offering some free parking options; however, they are slightly more modest than in years past.

Previously, downtown New Bedford meters were included on the list of free parking in the city, with the idea being that it would encourage holiday shopping. That practice ended quietly two years ago, pre-COVID, when the City announced that while the downtown parking garages would be free for two hours during the holidays, the downtown meters would no longer be included.

The decision was made after reviewing the results of a comprehensive parking study for the downtown and waterfront areas. The study took into considerations people that had skin in the game, namely businesses and city residents in those areas. Also factored into the decision was an extension of time limits on many City meters.

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This holiday season, in addition to the free downtown parking available at the Elm Street Garage and the Zeiterion Garage, meters in the North End business district on Acushnet Ave were also included.

The free two-hour parking is a courtesy of the city to make it easier for shoppers to spend their money at nearby businesses. Drivers who receive a ticket for parking longer that the two hour limit are invited to provide a same day sales receipt for $10 or more from a downtown or North End business or restaurant. The receipts must be received by the traffic commission within three weeks of receiving the parking ticket.

The New Bedford Traffic Commission office is located at 51 Elm Street and is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Questions regarding the Holiday Parking Program can be directed to the Traffic Commission office at (508) 961-3153.

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