The District's Department of Transportation has finally made a decision that makes life somewhat easier for drivers. (Bikers and pedestrians appear to get all the attention these days.)
DDOT lifted evening time limits on parking meters located in some of the busiest commercial areas in the District. Drivers will still have to pay for parking until 10:30 p.m., but they can stay as long as they'd like. The new rules apply to "Premium Demand Zones" such as Adams Morgan, Georgetown Historic District, Penn Quarter/Chinatown, U Street -NW corridor, Downtown Central Business District, Maine and Water Streets SW, The National Mall, and Wisconsin Avenue (from Van Ness St. to Western Avenue. Pretty much anywhere in the District you'd actually want to go for the night without having to worry about moving your car or feeding a meter. Back in January, DDOT -- to the displeasure of many-- extended the two-hour time limits in these areas from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., as the Examiner reports.
"The change angered drivers but also businesses such as restaurants and nightspots whose bottom lines rely on drivers having a spot to hold on to for several hours. Residents in neighboring areas also complained as their streets became clogged."
Drivers still have to cough up $2 an hour to park in premium demand zones. DDOT defends the amount in a press release posted on their website:
The District’s premium demand zone rate is comparable or lower than the premium rates in other major cities across the nation including New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Baltimore and Philadelphia where rates are $3 an hour or more.
And they are right, at least in comparison with New York City where parking meter rates in Manhattan are $2 for every 15 minutes or $8 an hour.
The District is also trying to make it easier for drivers to pay the meters. On July 19, DDOT is expected to launch a series of new parking pilot programs.
One of the most fascinating is the "pay by space" concept. Multi-space meters will be installed in the pilot zones and motorists will enter the number of the space they parked in when they pay. Small sensors will also be imbedded in the parking spaces to detect if they are occupied, information that could be used to help motorists find parking, according to DDOT's website.
The technology on the street today is amazing, and it’s constantly getting even more sophisticated,” said DDOT Director Gabe Klein, “But there are a lot of choices and we want to make sure we pick the right solutions to improve the parking experience in our city. ” “The technology on the street today is amazing, and it’s constantly getting even more sophisticated,” said DDOT Director Gabe Klein, “But there are a lot of choices and we want to make sure we pick the right solutions to improve the parking experience in our city.”
Several other pilot programs are all listed on DDOT's website. They will be evaluated for 90 days to help the agency develop what they call a long-range strategy to upgrade its parking equipment and payment systems.