(News Release: January 21, 2019)—

For the seventh quarter in a row, or since the fall of 2016, parking meter rates will be re-adjusted in one of the busiest areas in downtown Washington, the Penn Quarter and Chinatown neighborhoods, announces the District Department of Transportation (DDOT).

Under the latest rate adjustments, meter rates could soar to as much as $6.50 per hour, or drop as low as $1.00 per hour, depending upon demand. The latest parking meter rate adjustment, which hikes the venue’s topmost meter rate 183 percent higher than in any other areas of the city, goes into effect today, Tuesday, January 22.

It will now set you back $13 to park for two hours. The top rate was $3.25 an hour in early 2017. In contrast, the rate structure is $2.30 an hour at parking meters in premium parking zones and commercial loading zones across the city, such as the Downtown Central Business District, the U Street NW Corridor, Wisconsin Avenue NW (Van Ness Street to Western Avenue), Adams Morgan, the Georgetown Historic District, Maine Avenue and Water Street, SW, and the National Mall. Parking meter rates are $2.30 per hour in so-called “normal demand” parking areas across the District. Washington, D.C. boasts around 18,000 metered spaces. That inventory includes 1,000 on-street parking spaces in the Penn Quarter/Chinatown area, where total parking revenue has increased 17 percent from the onset of demand parking pricing.

“Peak parking rates at surge-priced parking slots in Penn Quarter/Chinatown will be $4.20 an hour more, almost 200 percent higher, than they are in other areas of the District, under the latest demand-based parking rate increase,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “Is the strategy improving parking in the city? Some wage-earners who work at night cooking for or cleaning nearby hotels, restaurants, offices, or at the Capital One Arena, can’t afford to park in the area. By monetizing its perennial paucity of parking, the District has found its proverbial ‘pot of gold at rainbow’s end.’ Demand-responsive parking revenue ranges from $3.8 million to $4.4 million annually in the venue. Parking revenues soared 31.3 percent from $64,656 weekly in the pre-pilot period to $85,000 a week after the third rate change. By the same token, total parking transactions decreased slightly in the meantime in the pilot area.”

On the up side, the time vehicles spend circling the area for parking decreased by between 7 percent and 15 percent, depending on the time of day, according to parkDC Pilot data. Due to stricter enforcement of parking limits and double-parking in the surroundings, the number of double-parking citations decreased 55 percent, from nearly 250 tickets to fewer than 100 issued. What is more, the pilot area witnessed a “43 percent decrease in minutes vehicles were observed double-parking in loading zones.” On top of that, the total number of “parking-related citations issued in the pilot area decreases by around 3,000 citations per month.” DDOT concedes, however, “No conclusions can be drawn from the data due to inconsistent enforcement.”

This is the seventh performance parking meter rate adjustment in the Penn Quarter and Chinatown environs since October 2016, notes AAA Mid-Atlantic. Under the latest parking rate adjustment in the corridor, “parking meter rates on individual block faces will range from $1.00 per hour to $6.50 per hour on the 93 blocks located within the Penn Quarter and Chinatown neighborhoods,” DDOT explains. It is improving the city’s bottom line. “Mobile-based parking revenue soared by 22 percent, and meter-based parking revenue increased by 12 percent, or $10,000 per week,” parkDC Pilot data show.

As meter rates and revenue are skyrocketing, the number of drivers seeking on-street parking in and around Penn Quarter/Chinatown is dropping, notes AAA Mid-Atlantic, as measured by a four percent decrease in total parking transactions. This explains in part why cruising time for parking dipped 7 to 15 percent in the Penn Quarter and Chinatown strip. Total revenue collected, and the amount of revenue per transaction, have increased in the pilot area with each subsequent rate change. For example, revenue increased 10.8 percent after the third price change in mid-2017. Meter rates in the corridor are slated to change every three months.

DDOT rolled out its pilot surge-priced parking plan in the heart of the city in 2016. The first meter rate adjustment in Penn Quarter/Chinatown occurred October 17, 2016, with a top rate of $2.75 per hour. Five subsequent price changes transpired on February 27, 2017 (top rate: $3.25 an hour); May 30, 2017 ($4 an hour); August 28, 2017 ($4.75 an hour); November 6, 2017 ($5.50 an hour); and on October 22, 2018. The seventh price increase occurs today. A 2015 AAA Mid-Atlantic poll revealed six out of ten District residents opposed the Multimodal Value Pricing Pilot plan. The survey was conducted by Public Policy Polling.

The District is not the only city to make “sweeping changes in how much it costs to park.” San Francisco was first, and other cities are following suit. “Parking meter rates are adjusted quarterly in the Penn Quarter and Chinatown neighborhoods,” DDOT explains. Initially a pilot project, the demand-based pricing regimen for on-street parking spaces became a permanent fixture in early 2018 in the purlieus of Penn Quarter and Chinatown, bounded by H Street NW, 3rd Street NW, E Street NW and 11th Street NW.

Heading to a home game for the Washington Wizards, Capitals, and Mystics, or the Georgetown Hoyas at Capital One Arena? “For spaces in the pilot area, parking meter rates on individual block faces will be adjusted to one of ten prices: $1.00/hour, $1.50/hour, $2.00/hour, $2.30/hour, $2.75/hour, $3.25/hour, $4.00/hour, $4.75/hour, $5.50/hour, $6.00/hour, or $6.50/hour,” explains DDOT. “Prices are also different depending on the time of day. On weekdays, there are three periods: 7 am – 11 am, 11 am – 4 pm, and 4 pm – 10 pm. On Saturdays, the rates will be the same all day.” Parking meter rates are adjusted at “the block face level, so all the spaces on one side of the street will have the same price on each block,” notes DDOT.

When parking in Penn Quarter/Chinatown, one of the city’s premier sports, entertainment and dining enclaves, motorists simply enter a space number in order to pay for parking at payment kiosks, a cutting-edge concept known as “pay-by-space,” and they can do so using Parkmobile. There is no need to display receipts on dashboards after a parking transaction in a thousand clearly numbered parking slots in the Penn Quarter/Chinatown corridor. DDOT touts its performance parking program, also known as “demand-based parking pricing,” in Penn Quarter/Chinatown as a means of “reducing the time needed to find parking, improving turnover of high-demand parking spaces, providing better parking information to motorists, and reducing congestion by adjusting prices based on observed demand for parking on a block-by-block basis.” Nearly 450 sensors monitor parking spots in the area and Park DC’s algorithms spew out the demand data.

The question remains, does the program make parking easier in the District? Or any cheaper? During Fiscal Year 2017, the city’s parking meter mavens and parking enforcement officers issued 1,387,006 parking citations for approximately 130 types of parking violations, including expired meter violations, which generated $60,650,182 in revenue. It equates to an issuance rate of an average of 3,800 parking tickets per day or 5,548 parking ticket per business day in the District (there were 250 working days in both 2016 and 2017, compared to 251 in 2018 and 2019). On average, each parking enforcement officer issued 30 to 40 citations per day. “All meters in the city are enforced on Saturdays, as well as evening hours Monday through Friday.”

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