Pay-by-space parking rolls out in Chinatown/Penn Quarter

WASHINGTON — The D.C. Department of Transportation is beginning a pilot program in Gallery Place-Chinatown and Penn Quarter that will result in key changes to how you pay to park and the parking rates.

Currently when you park at a spot, you go to a multispace meter, pay for the spot, get a printed receipt and display it on your dashboard. If you want more time, you must get a new receipt and put that on the dashboard, too.

Under the pilot program, each space would get a unique four- or five-digit number. You would park between marker posts, pay for the spot at a kiosk and walk away. Dashboard receipts will not be necessary.

If you need more time, you would walk to any kiosk in the corridor and enter the space number. It’s not necessary to go to the same kiosk where you paid initially.

“We think this is going to make things much more convenient for the public and it’ll move us more towards a market driven solution to parking,” says Leif Dormsjo, Director of the D.C. Department of Transportation.

Between Oct. 13 and Oct. 27, DDOT will roll out Pay-By-Space parking in the area from E to H streets in and 3rd to 11th street in Northwest, which covers about 1,000 spaces around locations such as the Verizon Center, National Building Museum and Ford’s Theater.

PAY BY SPACE rollout Map
A map details when and where pay-by-space parking will be rolled out. (Courtesy of DDOT)

 

Parkmobile will continue to be an option in those locations, too. Once you park between the marker posts, you would enter the zone number and the space number and then you’re finished.

“We’re going to begin with an education phase to get people used to the new payment systems and we’re going to collect data on demand at individual spaces, and eventually we’ll begin adjusting the rate based on demand,” says Dormsjo.

Dormsjo is referring to a new concept in parking known as dynamic pricing. Prices would fluctuate up and down based on the demand and time of day. The concept is similar to the dynamic tolling concept on the Virginia Express Lanes.

On the Express Lanes, tolls are changed up to every 15 minutes to manage the traffic and guarantee a 45 to 55 mph per hour trip any time during the day.

In parking, DDOT would periodically adjust parking rates to increase when demand is heavy and decrease when demand is light. However, unlike the Express Lanes, the price adjustments would not updated every 15 minutes, but would rather likely be adjusted based on time of day and re-evaluated several times per year.

“Our intent is that 10 to 15-percent of the spaces would be available at any given time. It will make it easier for people to find spots and it would prevent people from circling to find parking, which contributes to congestion on the road,” says Dormsjo.

Would people be willing to pay more for parking if it guaranteed that one or two spots were open on each block at all times? No one knows.

But before you call this a money grab, Dormsjo insists that other cities using the adjustable parking rates have determined that many more parking spots will see lower prices than higher prices overall.

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