>Starting New Parking Survey


I’m starting a new parking survey of the 500-700 blocks of M Street SE, right near where I work.  My goal for the survey is to find out when the peak of parking demand is for these spaces.  My guess (in science class you might call this a “hypothesis”) is that the peak of demand is between 11:00 am and 12:00 noon, based on some TCRP reports I’ve read.  I plan to take data once per day for a while.  It only takes 10 minutes to walk out to that block and write down how many cars are parked on the 5 block faces in the area.  I’ve already gotten some data confirming that there is not significant parking before 10am or after 3pm (unless the data is really, really weird and doesn’t follow a bell curve).  Based on 7-8 data points taken so far, it’s starting to look like a bell curve, though the holidays usually have low demand and therefore I will be taking much more data than I would otherwise need.

This block has seen a lot of change, parking-wise, since it was used for my previous study about who parks in the Navy Yard area.  The blocks used to be completely full of parkers from out of state that parked all day for free.  Now, after DDOT installed and started enforcing rush hour restrictions, and turned on the multispace meters, the blocks are nearly always empty (or significantly below 50% capacity), and I see the same commuter out-of-state cars parking elsewhere in the area (still for free).  I briefly chatted with one parker that was using a multispace meter, he stated that he was visiting the area for a meeting and would be parked about two hours.

Setting the meter prices right doesn’t always mean to raise the price.  Sometimes, when demand is low enough, it means reducing or eliminating parking charges.  Once I figure out when the peak of demand is, I’ll concentrate on getting data for that time period to make the case that the price is much too high.  I expect that the answer is that there is no time of day where there is a need to charge for parking at all.  I was able to look a couple of times when the rush hour restrictions were in place but the meters were not yet running, and the occupancy was around 50%, still lower than the targeted range of 80-90%.

The parking restrictions on these blocks are a 3-hour limit, no parking during morning and evening rush hours, and a charge of $1.00 for the first hour, and $1.50 each additional hour.  The combination of these restrictions and nearby free parking probably reduce the market value of this on-street parking to near zero, something I will try to confirm through obtaining more data.

Of course I will keep you posted with what I find out, as well as attempt to discuss the results with the DC parking manager.


About perkinsms

I'm an engineer and father interested in transit, parking and economics.
This entry was posted in calculations, cars, dc, economics, government, parking. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to >Starting New Parking Survey

  1. Anonymous says:

    >Your argument is flawed.Getting some money is better than no money, and the government would certainly prefer to get whatever they can from these spaces. So whether there’s full occupancy, or whether there’s minimal occupancy, it’s still money that they’re ultimately bringing in. I ran my own study – based on usage, and even based on the people who actually pay for their full parking term. The meters are paid for. The maintenance is a fixed cost, and pulling the plug is not an option if it means losing money.Are you going to show that they are actually losing money by keeping the meters? And, is your argument so strong, the solution from the government would not be to raise parking meter prices?

  2. Michael says:

    >I’ll agree that some revenue is better than no revenue. The problem is that by law DDOT is required to set the meter prices so that the spaces are occupied 80-90% of the time. If the meter occupancy is less than that, then the price by law needs to come down.There are basically two solutions to the low occupancy rates at these meters, lower the price, or reduce or eliminate the restrictions. Right now, the District is not making much money because hardly anyone is parking at them. They are making some money, but with the occupancy I’m seeing through initial data, the meters are making very little.I think what you’re arguing is that the meters are already purchased, so the government should keep the rate high so that when people park there they get a return on the use of the space?I’m arguing that by putting so many restrictions on the space, DC reduced the value of the space so low that people are going elsewhere.Would you mind sending me the data or results from your study?

  3. Dharm says:

    >I think you are onto something but are ignoring the whole issue of the Ballpark. The meters were put in to DISCOURAGE folks driving and looking for street parking when the Nationals play. I guess one could in theory make them effective during home games only or more realistically only during baseball season. The other thing is once the Yards project is all complete, the demand for parking will increase and you’ll see pressure to eliminate (or at least put residential restrictions) on the “free” parking so then the spaces metered using the multispace meters will start to be used.

  4. Michael says:

    >Dharm: Thanks for the comment, in this case M street is a “NO PARKING” zone during baseball games, so multispace meters were not necessary for controlling parking during baseball games. A couple of signs and enforcement is all that’s needed. I’ll agree that once the new developments are in and occupied the parking occupancy will likely go up. DDOT is already allowed to eliminate the free parking in the area (with the exception of L Street SE east of 8th, which is not part of the “Ballpark Pilot Zone”), so I don’t know why they haven’t already.

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