Sophia Barnes

Rates for Prime Parking in Chinatown, Penn Quarter to Spike

On average, drivers will pay more to park in Penn Quarter and Chinatown as D.C. officials continue a program testing parking meter surge pricing next week.

Beginning Nov. 6, rates in the neighborhood will range between $1 and $5.50 for one hour of metered street parking. That means some drivers will pay more for what officials designated prime spots, and others will pay less for less desirable ones.

At any time, between about 80 and 290 of roughly 1000 neighborhood spots will be cheaper than the current prime-time rate of $2.75 per hour. Between 71 and 92 percent of parking spots will cost drivers more.

How much you pay will vary based on time, day, block and side of the street.

For example, nearly one in ten drivers can find a $1 per hour parking spot on a weekday morning. Those budget spots are are only on H Street. You would have to pay $5.50 per hour to park on parts of E, 5th and 6th streets near the Gallery Place Metro station.

How much parking costs will fluctuate between four different time periods: weekday mornings, weekday midday, weekday evenings and Saturdays.

Mornings last 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., midday is between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. and evenings last from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Regardless of the time, drivers in the neighborhood will pay more for parking on average.

Weekday mornings will be the cheapest time to park, when the average cost of parking is $2.59 per hour. Some spots near the Judiciary Square Metro and  D.C. Court will still cost $5.50 per hour.

Weekday midday spots are the most expensive, when the average price jumps to $3.62 per hour. There will be about 30 spots available for $2 per hour, and half the spaces will cost between $2.30 and $3.25 per hour.

The rates will be displayed on meters and payment kiosks, a D.C. Department of Transportation spokesperson said. You can also see the rates on the parkDC and VoicePark apps.

Transporation officials say they their goal is to cut the amount of time drivers spend looking for parking, free up desirable spaces more often, provide better parking information and reduce congestion.

D.C. drivers spend an estimated 65 hours a year searching for the perfect spot, transporation research firm INRIX says.

According to maps from the D.C. Department of Transportation, nearly all of the roughly 1,000 parking spots in Chinatown and Penn Quarter will be subject to the rate change.

The demand-based pricing plan is in the pilot phase, a DDOT spokesperson said. DDOT has changed meter rates four other times during this pilot.

The pilot is expected to be completed during winter 2017, a DDOT spokesperson said.

News4 reported in June 2016 that peak prices were increasing to $2.75.

More details, including a map of Chinatown and Penn Quarter detailing parking rates throughout the week, are avaliable at

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