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Parking at Reston Town Center Will Soon Cost Money — Sometimes

by Karen Goff — March 15, 2016 at 2:45 pm 82 Comments

Garage at RTC1

After years of talking about it, Reston Town Center will soon be going to a paid parking garage system.

Later this year — most likely by August — RTC garages will start using an app-based system called Park RTC, says RTC spokeswoman Marion Myers.

Myers says there is already evidence that people are parking at Town Center and taking shuttles to Dulles International Airport or Whiele-Reston East’s Metro station and leaving cars for hours or even overnight.

With a Reston Town Center Metro station coming in 2020, there needs to be a new system in place, she said.

“We are looking for some solutions to protect parking for office [employees] and store customers,” said Myers.

Reston Town Center has 7,000 parking spaces spread over seven garages.

What RTC has decided on is a “virtual system,” she said. There will be no gates or tickets and no towing.

Drivers will download an app and connect it to a credit or debit card. Cameras in the RTC garages will scan license plates and charge your card — similar to the way EZPass works.

There will also be information kiosks installed, where drivers could get more info, get parking validation and pay in cash, said Myers. Out-of-towners and occasional visitors to RTC may not have the app so there has to be an alternative way to pay.

Myers added there will be many opportunities for validation discounts from stores and restaurants.

Parking will be free on weekends, holidays and for special events, she said.

The cost the rest of the time is $2 per hour, with a maximum of $12.

The app will also be able to tell you when you drive in the garage where available spaces are located.

Myers said the garage cameras will also add an additional layer of security.

She said the new system has been generally well-received by Town Center merchants.

“They know something is going to happen when the Metro comes here,” she said. “We have not heard negative feedback.”

  • spog

    Great, more opportunities to get run over by someone staring at their phone in the poorly lit parking garages!

    • pleasebekidding

      Phones are back-lit. Ever tried using your phone in a dark room?

  • meh

    Well, looks like that’ll reduce the amount of time and money spent at RTC. I’m not jumping through hoops to get parking validated.

    • GB

      Yeah, I’ll spend $50 for dinner for 2 at one of those restaurants but no way will I pay $4 for parking!
      It does seem like 4 hrs of free parking would mean almost one needs to get parking validated and would also stop long term parkers.

      • KTinDC

        4 hours free = great idea.

      • Expat

        3-4 hours free is a great idea. Where I come from in Australia, most of the shopping centers etc. that are within walking distance of train stations have implemented this system to discourage commuters from parking there, yet still allowing shoppers to frequent the area without having to pay. Seems like it would be the perfect solution.

      • TheKingJAK

        Not everybody is going there to spend $50.

  • workerbee

    So how exactly does this work for the people who work in RTC? Am I now going to be charged $12/day?

    • Karen Goff

      I think that is a question for your office. Most likely there will be some kind of sticker that gives you free parking. But good idea for a follow up story.

      • Melissa

        Please do follow up. I go to Crunch every morning in RTC before work, but if I have to pay for parking I will need to give up my membership. The parking fee will increase my gym membership by 400%.

        How are RTC businesses reacting to this?

        • Karen Goff

          For right now, Myers says they are OK with it. I will also be doing a follow up on what businesses have to say. Parking may actually be free before 10 a.m. – they are still working out exact time parameters.

          • Steve

            What’s in it for the business owners? Why would they support this? I would think they would oppose any potential decline in customers.

          • Anne

            As a small business owner in RTC this is the worst thing that could happen. I am not sure who Myers is talking to but its definitely not my business and I can’t imagine other retailers are on board either. Not only will this deter customers from coming to RTC but for those who do, I will have to pay to validate their parking. My employees will not get parking passes so my business will have to absorb this cost as well. Why would any customer come to RTC when you can go anywhere within a 10 mile radius without having to pay for parking. The excuse that there are people using the parking garages for commuting is weak. There is plenty of parking spaces in RTC, finding them is an issue but this can be solved by way signage and technology.

          • Karen Goff
          • Tephra

            I picture Reston Town Center with tumbleweeds blowing down the empty streets past boarded up shops.

          • Irritated!

            Free before 10am? Still doesn’t make sense as that’s when a majority of the stores open! Was JUST considering switching gyms to Crunch. Not going to happen if they start charging for parking or even having to deal with the hassle to have to get validated each time. Additionally, all the things I did during the weekday at RTC were buying cards, flowers and gift certificates. As for the evening, we also visit friends that live there. Will be taking my business elsewhere. And don’t forget, not a good sales point when trying to sell your condo or rent an apartment!

          • Juan

            I imagine you’ve never frequented a Trader Joe’s in Arlington where it takes a whole 1.5 seconds to validate your parking ticket through an automated machine. Heaven forbid.

          • Life With HC

            Unfortunately, I haven’t. The validators I have met typically glare at you for asking them to validate your parking or don’t know how to validate the ticket.

          • LesAnn620

            Actually I see it as a pretty good sales point. I live in the condos across the street, where we have all surface parking, and we walk to RTC a lot. The only time I really drive there is if I’m stopping at the ATM (and parking on the curb momentarily) to grab some cash on my way somewhere else.

            Anyway, when paid parking starts I can tell my friends that if we’re meeting for drinks on a weeknight to just park at my house and we’ll walk over. Voila! Instant fix and now I don’t have to walk back home alone. Bonus safety feature. For those that live in condos that use RTC garages, they likely have visitor passes/privileges for their guests, too.

          • Freeloader

            May we all park at your house?

          • Life With HC

            Your neighbors will love you filling three or four spaces.in your condo’s lot. What, then. will your neighbors do for parking?

  • Rob

    “There will be no gates or tickets and no towing.”

    And hence, there will be no paying.

    • Tom

      When you go through the EZ Pass express lane, there’s no gates, tickets or towing there either, yet people still have to pay. They’ll just use the same system EZPass has. Take a picture of your license plate and send you a bill.

  • John Q Public

    shocked that it took so long for the clown center to implement this…..another reason to stay away & save money

  • KTinDC

    I didn’t need additional reasons *not* to visit the Clown Center, but now I’ve got another!

  • Steve

    If the problem is people parking at the town center during the day and taking shuttles, why not charge on weekdays only? Otherwise, the town center is going to discourage people from going there to the movies, shopping and dining on weeknights. We have other, free options like Tysons Corner and Dulles Town Center on weeknights. Think especially about the holiday shopping season or restaurant week. Think also about this: the possibility of a county meals tax, higher real estate taxes and the inevitable annual increase in the Reston Association assessment. And now you want to tack on a parking fee at town center?

    • GB

      Parking will be free on weekends, holidays and for special events, she said.”

      • Steve

        Weekdays and weeknights are Monday through Friday. I only addressed those days.

    • HP

      Read the whole piece, not just the headline — parking is free on weekends, holidays and special events.

      • Steve

        Thanks. I only address weeknights, when it is not free.

      • Kimmy

        Yes, read his comment. He’s asking why wouldn’t they make it free on weekNIGHTS?

        • HP

          The beauty of editing one’s own comment

    • TheKingJAK

      This isn’t even a problem. To the contrary, they’re simply looking for ways to make more money. People shouldn’t be so quick to buy into the ruse of the fees being necessary to somehow prevent “Abuse”.

  • Jay

    They should use the same system they have in pentagon row. They have a meter that requires you to push a button to give you up to two free hours. Obviously if you misuse the spots and leave your car you’ll be gone longer than two hours thus you get ticketed.

  • J’son

    The High Cost of Free Parking. There’s more to it than your pocket book.

    http://www.amazon.com/High-Cost-Parking-Updated-Edition/dp/193236496X

  • Sam

    I agree with others that parking should be free for the first 2-3 hours. That allows someone to run an errand or eat lunch without the additional cost. I work near the Spring Hill Metro station in Tysons and our garage implemented a similar structure — first 3 hrs are free, after that it’s $10 (which still seems high). If you’re trying to make money off of commuters or airport passengers, you’ll still get your money’s worth.

  • Juan

    As someone else commented: what’s to prevent an out-of-town guest from rolling out of the parking garage without paying? Unless the system works like EZPass and a bill/fine is mailed to your license plate’s registered address. Or just defeat the system by covering your plates when you go in and out of the garage…

    I like how people are complaining about paid parking when merchants/employers will end up validating your parking for you. You already pay a premium to live in this area, you can’t afford an extra few seconds for parking validation?

    • Sam

      Merchant validation is optional. They are paying the fee when they stamp your ticket. Not everyone will be willing to do that.

      • Juan

        Not if they’re not required to pay for their employees/customers’ usage. They’re not required to currently, so why would they in the future? The point is to weed out people using the garages for purposes other than within RTC.

      • Juan

        I also think they need to work out a lot of details before the system is implemented. As a lot of us have already pointed out, there are inherent flaws with the proposed system – at least how it’s summarized in the article. Maybe they’ve already thought of solutions to many of the issues…I would hope so at least.

    • LesAnn620

      I imagine they’ll do just that — scan license plates and send a bill in the mail.

    • Tephra

      For me it’s not really the money that’s the problem. It’s the complications of the system (app/registration, cameras, etc.). They say ‘other options will be provided’. I’m sure that however, will require me to (probably wait in line and then…) type in my license plate number into their database at a kiosk and hope they don’t snap a photo and bill me by accident. And that appears to be true with validation as well. Maybe validation only occurs with the App? Again. Too complicated.

      Lots of ‘what if’s’ that I don’t have to worry about at other shopping centers who have more retailers (like Gap, for instance).

    • Den Goodwin

      What about the employee’s who work at say the Chipotle? They are likely making around 10 dollars an hour. Now with the $2/hour charge, they are only making 8$ an hour. Factor in taxes and possible tolls and gas, and they are getting cheated. The big guys (Boston Properties) don’t need to siphon more money from the struggling working class – It’s wrong and greedy and you just don’t seem to be able to comprehend that important fact.

  • LakeNewportLady

    I agree there should definitely be a 4 hour free parking grace period. I go to the town center a few days a week for lunch and would stop if I had to pay for parking.

  • AlliD

    This is a bad idea. I already dislike going to RTC to begin with and now, no more free parking.

  • GrumpyOldMan

    I live in Reston, but I don’t use apps. Don’t even own a “smart” phone. (O-M-G! as the kids no longer say)

    I won’t be going to Town Center.

    But, then, what’s new???

  • slr3975

    Keep pushing people out of the RTC. Great job … The rents alone in RTC are too damn expensive for average income folks. It’s like San Francisco … Pushing your average joe away! Hell, if your doing this because of the metro maybe start that in two or three years from now?? Unreal!

  • Melissa Berkemeier Romano

    Especially with a new brewery and a revitalized coffee shop opening soon–to add to the mix of already great independently and locally owned restaurants and shops!

    • TheKingJAK

      Lake Anne was the place to be long before RTC arrived, and I frequented it as a kid. Then I began to frequent RTC more often, but now once again I am seeing the appeal of good ol’ Lake Anne.

  • cosmo

    They should do what Ballston Commons in Arlington does: $1 for the first two hours any time and a flat $1 evening rate if you enter after 6:00. I don’t like the app idea either – my phone Is already out of storage space with other apps and too many people won’t be able to use it. With no gates, what’s to prevent people from just driving off without paying? Sounds like there are a lot details to work out.

    • Reston Dog Center

      Watch them charge for the app too

  • Arielle in NoVA

    Horrible idea. I don’t want another app. I don’t want to deal with validation. I don’t really want to be tracked, but if you’re going to “like EZ-Pass” – just pay to make it work with EZ-Pass! Most of us already have that in our cars. Going to RTC has gone from going reasonably often (when it was mostly surface parking) to going for some movies and the occasional shopping trip or dinner (now) to going only when I absolutely have to (paid parking via app and validation and tracking and all that).

  • Chuck Morningwood

    Just one more reason for me not to go to the RTC.

  • John Farrell

    Simple idea. Every time you go to a store in RTC from now on, ask to see the manager and tell them that you will stop shopping there when paid parking is implemented.

  • Ruth Sievers

    We go out to eat at Town Center and see movies at Bowtie frequently on weeknights. If I have to pay $2 an hour, this will change, because there are lots of alternatives that won’t charge me to park. In the summer we tried walking there, but coming home in the dark (it’s just 1.5 miles) was unsettling because we couldn’t see the path.

  • MarkR307

    one more reason to ride a bike to RTC, at least when the weather is good.

    • TheKingJAK

      I used to walk two miles there and two miles back when I was younger, and yes, sometimes we rode our bikes or just asked to be dropped off.

    • Life With HC

      That’s a good point. They will also need to charge for the ability to lock a bike at RTC.

  • TBex

    This is a good and necessary idea. Parking is way too scarce there on weekdays, and scarce resources should be paid for. It is very discouraging that some people here think free parking is some god-given right; it should be subject to the market just like anything else. Consider exploring the rich network of Fairfax Connector buses if you can’t afford parking; maybe you’re just more bus class than car class.

    • TheKingJAK

      You sound like the type of snob who’s behind most of the problems at RTC to being with.

      • TBex

        I didn’t know I was a snob because I don’t expect free handouts from the government and/or business I frequent.

    • Craig

      Wrong on both counts in your first sentence.

    • Hugo

      I don’t think folks are that desperate to shop and spend time at RTC, especially given the fact that any other shopping center in a 10 miles radius has free parking. Correct, parking is not a god given right.. neither is being a snobby ass soccer mom.

  • Robert

    What about people that live in town center and don’t have parking in their buildings garages? I depend on the street and garages when I’m home at night.

    • TheKingJAK

      I actually feel bad for you. 🙁

  • I understand that that state has a vested interest in sharing its license plate data to the folks whom they’ve authorized to run the toll roads, but can just anyone do a reverse look up on my license plate? Aren’t there privacy issues in selling this data to third parties? How else will they be able to bill us, and how would I prove that an incorrect bill I received was invalid? Let’s say they wanted to bill every third address in Reston or Herndon, how do I prove otherwise?

  • Tephra

    Wow. That parking scheme sounds complicated. I have to download an app then let them store my credit card and then they’ll take pictures of my license plate….and then…
    You know what? I think I’ll shop somewhere else. Thanks!

  • June Smith

    Something tells me businesses will not renew their lease agreements – and we will see a lot of empty retail and office space in the Town Center if the RTC Garages don’t come up with a better solution to their metro parking problem.

  • Jack jobs

    Hate this. HATE.

  • Life With HC

    Thank all the people who wanted the Metro here. They couldn’t drive over to Falls Church and use the orange line for that annual trip into DC.

  • Craig

    As someone who frequents RTC regularly: what an astonishingly stupid idea.

    “She said the new system has been generally well-received by Town Center merchants.”

    Suuuuuuuuure it has.

  • Liz Thatcher

    This is ridiculous. I started a petition to show Boston Properties how the patrons of RTC really feel about this. http://www.standunited.org/petition/dont-charge-visitors-and-employees-to-park

    • Karen Goff

      Thanks, Liz. I will spread the word.

      • Liz Thatcher

        Thank you! If enough of us complain to Boston Properties, maybe they’ll change their minds!

    • Thanks for starting the petition. I have signed it.

  • Marty

    I routinely go up to RTC for one reason or another. When doing so, I often stop at a restaurant or some other store. I guess that will end once I have to pay for parking. There are many other places I can go for food. The only way to really stop this would be for a serious number of people to stop going to RTC as often as they do now. We, and the RTC owners/managers know that won’t happen, so they will be successful in developing this new income stream. “Ya gotta pay pay pay…..”

  • Sergei

    What a lie Mrs. RTC spokeswoman Marion Myers!!! – “They know something is going to happen when the Metro comes here,” she said. “We have not heard negative feedback.” – REALLY??? You do not and did not have a single positive feedback, except probably from vendors of that “state of the art” parking system. BP’s insatiable greed will kill Reston Town Center VERY fast.

  • Sergei

    At the community meeting BP tried a lousy pitch that they have no choice but implement paid parking to recover maintenance cost (that is why thy are installing the most sophisticated, as they claimed, parking management system). Really? Ever heard about Google? They provide FREE search that cost to “maintain” is significantly higher and THEY make money at the same time, significantly more that BP, MUCH more.

  • Patrick Ohara

    is parking at Spectrum shopping centers also going to be “Paid Parking”?

  • Why live/work way out of DC in Reston when you have to start paying for parking like you’re in DC, Arlington, or Bethesda?

    Please sign the petition to stop parking fees in Reston: https://www.change.org/p/parking-restontowncenter-com-stop-new-parking-garage-fees-at-reston-town-center/sponsors/new

  • Den Goodwin

    I don’t think they seem to understand that all the good stores at RTC are also in Tysons, Dulles, Merrifield, and all around that surrounding area. People are not going to want to download some app their phone doesn’t have room for to pay 2 dollars an hour for parking just to grab lunch for 20 minutes. Stop trying to get away with nickel and diming people – they won’t allow it. You’re embarrassing your selves.

    Also, think about the employee’s. They are already making prob 10-20 dollars an hour. A 2 dollar per hour charge literally taxes their wage even further. Boston Properties probably already has enough money – the greed needs to STOP.

  • mike connor

    Pay to park OUTSIDE of the beltway?! LOL!

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