Parking To Get Cheaper in Certain Areas

by ARLnow.com January 10, 2011 at 9:15 am 3,241 14 Comments

Concerned about “very low utilization” of certain metered parking spaces, Arlington County will be experimenting with lower hourly rates.

There are about 4,800 metered parking spaces in Arlington, according to Traffic Engineering and Operations Bureau Chief Wayne Wentz. After studying the occupancy rate of parking spaces around the county, officials decided to take action to improve the utilization of about 180 spaces that are on the fringes of commercial areas.

The rate at those spaces will be lowered from $1 per hour to $0.50 per hour for a six month “trial period.” After the trial period, county officials will evaluate the results of the change and decide what to do next.

Wentz said making the change is “relatively easy.” It involves flipping switches inside the meters and changing stickers to reflect the new price. The new parking rates should “go live” by the end of February, Wentz said.

The changes are being made in the following areas. More detailed information was not immediately available.

  • Sequoia Plaza (near the county’s new Department of Human Services facility) — 70 spaces
  • Outside the Courthouse area on Barton Street — 35 spaces
  • Penrose area near Columbia Pike — 31 spaces
  • Pentagon City (Joyce Street south of 15th Street) — 23 spaces
  • Arlington Ridge area — 12 spaces
  • East Falls Church (Westmoreland Street, near Metro) — 10 spaces

  • david

    What if you use an iPark?

    • The County does not recommend using the iPark device for meters with lower rates because the iPark does not have a setting for 50 cents. People who choose to use the iPark at these meters may select the green setting for the 75 cents per hour rate.

  • Burger

    Or, the likely reason they are underutilized is that they are no where near where people want to go, to far from their intended spots or not enough people want to go to Arlington Co. DHS facility to warrant there being parking meters but the County in the unending need to grab money they just stuck them there.

    Seriously, those Westmoreland spots are a considerable way to the metro and it is cheaper and easier to drive to Ballston, park at the Mall and take the Metro, in much less carry 10 dollar in quarters around.

    • Charlie

      Market forces. Westmoreland was heavily parked prior to development so the geniuses of the transportation commission required that these spaces get metered. Now no one parks there. Free was their value. Now those meters cost about $400.00 ech.

  • South Arlington

    Not to mention that the DHS facility has a huge free parking garage for patrons to use. The meters are ridiculous.

  • Arlwhenever

    Greedy county government sooner or later runs up along the upper end of the Laffer Curve. It’s happening at TJ rec center as we speak, with superior equipment at new gyms on Columbia Pike being offered for competitive rates and on more flexible terms.

  • I wonder how much it costs in labor and meter upkeep per meter.

  • OddNumber

    Rather than assuming parking meters are function of county greed, I suggest looking at the benefit they provide. Parking in commercial zones is a scarce resource with high demand and you need some mechanism to keep the turnover in those spots high to increase the number of people that get to use them. You can further diminish the demand for those spots by decreasing the cost to park in areas that require a further walk. I don’t really understand why they are keeping these specific underutilized meters because free parking would certainly increase utilization. Perhaps just to keep people from dropping vehicles there long term?

    There is no reason for a person looking for a parking spot to expect these specific meters are cheaper (unless there are big signs posted), so I suspect they will find no real change in utilization at the end of six months and either restore the current cost or get rid of the meters.

    • Thes

      And in fact, using market forces explicitly and intentionally to maximize use of public parking space is Arlington County’s actual written policy:


      Page 9: “Policy 5: Utilize parking meter pricing strategies that vary by hour and location to better match parking availability and demand. Implement newer technologies such as multi‐space meters and credit card and cell phone payment to enhance parking options.

      Where demand for parking spaces exceeds supply, use of market strategies (i.e. charging money for parking) is a well‐established and effective public management tool. Parking charges encourage users to use parking efficiently with parking spaces turning‐over more frequently, thereby accommodating more users.”

      • OddNumber

        Good reference! I am curious to see how the county informs the public about these changes. If a motorist can’t tell the difference in price when driving by then varying the price won’t regulate demand.

  • House in Ballston

    In some areas (thinking about Wilson Blvd in Clarendon, specifically) the meters have differently colored tops to denote different max parking times. Maybe the County can come up with something similar so that people can easily see which meters are cheaper, while they’re still in their cars looking for a parking spot.

  • Jennifer

    If no one uses them, why don’t they convert half of them to more than an hour, and change the other half to 30 min limit free parking? I know, I’m living in a dream world, but I like it.

  • Suburban Not Urban

    Strange, guess they didn’t get the memo that the EFC plan is not to disrupt the single family neighborhoods, rather than parking more people away from the metro so they then have to walk through the neighborhoods. Or maybe they just aren’t truthful about what the plan is.

  • Tom

    To all businesses I won’t pay 1 or 2 bucks an hour to shop at your store or eat at your restaurant.

    Your losing business by not complaining about the high cost of parking!


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