Free Saturday parking in downtown Bethesda and Silver Spring has gone the way of Blockbuster stores and flip phones — Montgomery County has started to charge for parking in these areas in county-operated parking lots, meters and garages on previously gratis Saturdays.
Beginning on Saturday, July 8, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation began charging its current weekday rate through Saturday. Parking will remain free on Sundays and during county-recognized holidays.
The first day of these new parking fees coincided with a shooting inside a Silver Spring parking garage earlier in the day which left a man dead.
MCDOT director Chris Conklin said the department will use funds from Saturday parking enforcement to install more lighting, cameras and other new safety and security measures for facilities in Downtown Bethesda, Silver Spring and Wheaton.
“That would be a good thing. If they’re going to use the money wisely, then I can’t really be opposed to it,” said Bethesda resident Jill Washecka, who also admitted she doesn’t “love” the idea and had some concern the change might hurt businesses.
To the contrary, Conklin said he expects the new Saturday fees to have a positive impact on the community and local businesses.
“Metered parking promotes turnover in parking spaces, which will increase the number of people who are able to dine and shop downtown,” Conklin said.
Drivers in this area can now expect to see the following parking prices in effect Monday through Saturday:
- On-street parking from 9 a.m.-10 p.m. for $2.25 an hour
- Park in surface lots and garages from 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Surface lots are $2 per hour, while garages are $1.75 an hour
Downtown Silver Spring
- Park on-street from 9 a.m.-10 p.m. for $2 an hour
- Park in surface lots and garages from 7 a.m.-10 p.m. for $1.25 per hour
The department said signs alerting drivers of new Saturday parking details are posted around Downtown Bethesda and Silver Spring facilities.
Motorists who want parking passes or to see a full list of parking programs and options in the county can visit the Department of Parking Management’s website.