Hi Marci
A quick response----unfortunately, the press release left out some of the intent behind this initiative which has been going on for several years as a way to keep Burlington residents shopping "local" rather than driving out to suburban shopping locations--as well as trying to bring a share of those suburban holiday shopping dollars downtown.  Essentially the City is trying to 'level the playing field' with regard to parking during the holiday shopping season because we do not have acres and acres of convenient free parking as most suburban malls do. 
A second point--this initiative is not aimed at commuters but at shoppers ----it makes free parking available primarily on evenings and weekends, when public transportation is either very limited or simply nonexistent.
Hope this adds some clarification.
Regards,  Mark
Mark Eldridge
Alliance for Climate Action
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