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Paid Parking at Reston Town Center on Hold Until January

by Karen Goff September 7, 2016 at 12:40 pm 69 Comments

Parking garage at Reston Town Center

The rollout of paid parking at Reston Town Center has been put on hold until January of 2017, RTC parking spokesman Rob Weinhold said on Wednesday.

The paid parking system was slated to go into effect on Monday, Sept. 12.

RTC owners Boston Properties has invested in a ParkRTC App with LiveSafe technology, as well as electronic parking availability signs, Bluetooth-enabled validation and other high-tech systems for the 25-year-old town center, which has always had free parking.

Weinhold says the decision was made based on consumer and tenant feedback as many in the community were not embracing the technology (still more are upset at the $2-an-hour charge on weekdays and thousands have signed a petition asking Boston Properties to keep parking free).

“The postponement will allow additional time to educate customers,” Weinhold said. “We will continue our outreach efforts.”

Boston Properties says it still plans to instill paid parking. The company previously said it was going to to the new system to cut down on abuse by Metro commuters, who are using RTC’s seven garages as parking while they hop a shuttle to Metro’s Silver Line station at Wiehle-Reston East.

The Silver Line station at Reston Town Center is still years away from opening in early 2020.

“There is no question Reston Town Center remains committed to strategies which enhance overall customer experience,” Peter D. Johnston, Boston Properties’ Executive Vice President for the Washington, D.C. Region, said in a statement. “The digital parking and mobile safety integration is an enormous step in advancing both of these historical and very worthwhile goals. We will continue to invest in the Reston community through world-class facilities, family-oriented events, top brand attractions, innovative technologies and nonprofit donations. A safe, family-friendly environment is always our top priority.”

Meanwhile, tenants got this message from Boston Properties today:

Dear Tenants,

I hope this message finds you well. As you know, Reston Town Center is scheduled to fully activate both ParkRTC and LiveSafe, two integrated digital parking and mobile safety technology apps, next Monday, September 12th. However, after continuing to meet with tenants, listen to customer concerns and comprehensively assess the roll-out timing, we have decided to postpone paid parking activation until January 2017.

The LiveSafe app will continue to be available for free download and will be fully operational on October 1st of this year (after downloading the ParkRTC app). We encourage people to download the LiveSafe app so users are able to familiarize themselves with the innovative technology in a substantive manner. 

While the postponement will not change our long-term parking policies, it will give us additional time to comprehensively educate our customers about the new technologies. To that end, Reston Town Center will continue its outreach efforts and work toward achieving a greater level of understanding and comfort among its customer base, while moving toward a seamless paid parking transition in January 2017. 

There is no question Reston Town Center Management remains committed to strategies which enhance overall customer experience. The digital parking and mobile safety integration is an enormous step in advancing both of these historical and very worthwhile goals. And, we will continue to invest in the Reston community through world-class facilities, family-oriented events, top brand attractions, innovative technologies and nonprofit donations. A safe, family-friendly environment is always our top priority. 

Our team will continue to proactively engage with you regarding these very important initiatives. However, if you have any immediate questions, please contact your property manager. Thank you very much for your continued partnership, patience and understanding.

  • Mike M

    Educate me, BP! And take your sweet time.

  • Liz Thatcher

    BP is shocked, SHOCKED that this whole paid parking scheme didn’t go over well.

    This is now the third time they’ve conceded. The first time they agreed not to charge retail employees, then they moved back launch to September, now to 2017 all together.

    Keep up the good work RTC patrons.

  • Michael Price

    Or it could be that some of the garages are still a hot mess, and don’t look prepared to start the process in 5 days. The garage on Freedom Drive looks sloppy, needs repainting over top of the “3-hour parking” spots, and it probably needs the extra 4 months to be ready,

    • cRAzy

      The technology “solution” won’t even be ready until October to download.

      • compactdisqus

        yep…this delay is also probably to rework the app as that doesn’t really take a week. As mentioned below, this is also too close to the holiday season.

  • nelson muntz

    I’m waiting for that sweet education on how tracking my every movement through RTC benefits me. Or why I need a ‘find my car’ app when I could just walk through the garage anyway (their words – not mine). Or why I’d go and pay $2/hr to park when I could go to so many other places in the surrounding area.

    • LakeNewportLady

      Love your name!

    • William

      Even if I weren’t opposed to paying to park there, it would be a cold day in hades before I’d download their app and give them my personal information as required by it.

  • LakeNewportLady

    You don’t need to educate consumers….you need to do 3-hours free. Then people who want to shop/dine won’t care and you’ll get the commuter dollars you claim you care about.

    • justme4you

      SO SIMPLE…didn’t BP think of it or is MONEY the only reason??

      • taylor13

        Money is the only reason.

  • There is no education required, pay to park to spend money….that is a no value add decision.

    The funny thing about this latest too little – too late announcement, many groups that used to meet at Town Center to start / end an activity, enjoy a meal together have already moved out to other locations.

    Fairfax Commons, Fair Lakes, Mosaic….all close by and all free parking. I’ve already moved out and on, no coming back. This is way too complex to understand and Pay For! It does provide comic relief.

    • Richard

      I almost didn’t go to RTC over the weekend because I thought the paid parking had already been implemented. I stayed when I found parking was still free – but the restaurants were unusually quiet for a beautiful Saturday night. Maybe everyone was out of town for Labor Day Weekend, or maybe the parking. In any case, maybe the quiet weekend put a shock into the business owners.

      • Guest

        Weekday business lunches and dinners have definitely started to move. There’s just too much else available in the area.

        • LakeNewportLady

          My husband and I went for a farewell RTC lunch on Tuesday and were shocked at how empty Uncle Julio’s and Jackson’s was….wasn’t sure if it was a holiday thing or what but I’d never seen it so empty.

  • Richard

    Looks like they were anticipating a Christmas bloodbath. Don’t be surprised if this paid parking idea quietly disappears or is indefinitely postponed, at least until the Metro extension opens. Maybe they replace it at that time with three-hour free parking for all guests with enhanced or automated ticketing/towing through their new system.
    On the positive side for Boston Properties, their investment in the parking system should be a boon to shoppers and businesses alike over the holidays. As opposed to the paid parking plan, I will be more likely to visit RTC if the new parking system works as advertised. You can forget about my money once they start charging me for parking, however.

  • Concerned citizen

    I just don’t understand what they are thinking? They simply cannot move on this before Tysons Corner mall? RTC’s management just doesn’t understand. Look around at our newer options (area resident for 22 years) One Loudoun, Brambleton Town Center, Loudoun station, and even Dulles Town Center is coming along (finally added the movie theatre). What do all those places have in common? FREE PARKING!!! RTC is not as “unique” as it once was. Wake up BP!

    • Ming the Merciless

      Meh. They’re also much farther away.

      • cRAzy

        Amazon is so much closer. And you can always order pizza for delivery.

        • Ming the Merciless

          Yup, and there’s nothing special you can get in RTC that you can’t get online. Restaurants are OK but not spectacular.

          • justme4you

            They are chains that you can find anywhere.

  • Arielle in NoVA

    Yesssss! Temporary win for locals vs. corporate heads.

    • Edward Calvert

      Fight the Man ! Sometimes he loses 🙂

    • RestonGrandma

      I agree. Seems like we are losing Reston all over. Nice to get a win even if it is temporary. Maybe it can be permanent if we keep up the pressure.

  • melissa pandina

    They can “re-educate” us till hell freezes over and my family will still boycott town center. I will never put a damn app on my phone so I can pay to park.

    • Generic User

      You will be sent to the re-education camps.

  • LB35

    I can take Leesburg Pike to Tysons Corner and park for free. It will cost less in gas money than to pay you to park in RTC. Your tenants will loose business, and may end up moving or demanding lower rent rates when leases expire. Now Boston Properties Mgmt., you have been educated. So drop the dumb idea of charging me to park.

    • Ming the Merciless

      It will cost less in gas money than to pay you to park in RTC

      No, it won’t. And it will take a lot more time.

      • Guest

        First part: RTC -> Tysons Corner mall via route 7 is 10.2 miles per Maps. How many gallons do you burn per mile?

        • Edward Calvert

          I can walk to rtc but might go to tysons via the toll road just for spite.

        • obxers

          Don’t feed the troll.

        • Ming the Merciless

          20 miles out and back. ~20mpg city for a large car or SUV. One gallon of gas, $2.30. YMMV.

          • John

            Lots of people are half way between RTC and other shopping destinations. Not everyone lives in those overpriced condos besides RTC. I would bet over half of the RTC customers are within equal distance to other similar shopping destinations like One Loudoun, Fairfax Corner, Tysons Corner. It will cost no more money to go there instead of RTC. Even a 20% reduction in customers will be very painful to RTC merchants and cause many to go out of business.

          • Ming the Merciless

            You would lose your bet. People who think they are equidistant from RTC to other major shopping centers probably haven’t measured it on a map. And a lot depends on the time of day you want to do your shopping or eating. Getting on Route 7, 28, or 286 in the afternoon is much, much more aggravating than using side streets to get to RTC.

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/762b1a3396cc1ad9421f9143c775d5b06bb5d61a51041cae526f1313cdae5d19.jpg

          • John

            No I wouldn’t loose my bet because lots of people shop at RTC that don’t live in the “official” Reston zipcodes your map shows in the map above. I’m thinking of zipcodes like 22181, 22182, 22066, 20170, 20171, 20172, 20192, 22095. The RTC shopping boundaries are MUCH larger than your map shows. May Reston “side streets” are just as clogged than 7, 28 or 286. Have you travelled recently on Reston Parkway, Fairfax County Parkway?

          • Ming the Merciless

            How come a sperglord like you doesn’t know it is LOSE not LOOSE?

            I drive in Reston every single day. If I absolutely had to buy something in the afternoon, I would unquestionably prefer RTC to getting on 7, 28, or 286. You can get very close to RTC without getting on Reston Parkway at all. Going to Tyson’s, Dulles, or Chantilly is an absolute nightmare.

            Those people who live south of Reston are already going to Sully Plaza or Fair Lakes for the simple reason that they can do that mainly on back roads rather than clogged main roads.

          • John

            Autocorrect got me again on the lose versus loose. I should have checked it before hitting the reply button. Oh well at least you knew what I typed instead of what autocorrect put in its place. I disagree as I’ve said there are lots of people that live south, north, west and east of RTC that are equal distance to RTC and other shopping destinations that today are going to RTC. In the future will parking fees drive aways maybe 15-20% of them it would appear that BP agrees because if not they would not keep delaying the paid parking start date. I drive in Reston to must everyday and depending on where in Reston and what time of day you are driving the experience can be a lot different.

          • Why do you bother?

            I get 28 mpg – definitely less to go to Tysons than to park at RTC.

    • vdiv

      You guys still burn gas to drive? How last century…

  • cRAzy

    Ahhh, now BP is waiting until AFTER the holiday rush so as not to lose all that business! Then sock it to the retailers and potential customers.

    BP can wait until doomsday. The so-called technology system (vice one involving real human beings) will still be a supremely stupid one and the failure to give several hours free for shoppers (per LakeNewportLady here) will still drive shoppers and diners somewhere else. It may also drive office occupants elsewhere as well when their leases permit.

    Technology doesn’t solve stupidity.

  • Greendayer

    Paying for previously free parking does nothing to “enhance overall customer experience”

  • CBDS

    lol. I guess we are stuck with only hundreds of shops and restaurants in the surrounding Reston/Herndon area that have free parking.

  • EliteinReston

    The latest postponement is further proof of the make-it-up-as-we-go-along nature of how Boston Properties has mismanaged this parking fee. To recap: no initial community or resident involvement, no tenant input, failure to initially consider the impact on low wage workers, refusal to compromise on weeknight parking, inability to communicate clearly the rationale for the fee (commuters park at 8 p.m.?) and clumsy handling of the parking app. You’re tempted to say someone’s head should roll for this but we have no idea who’s the brainchild of this ill-fated plan. By the way, there’s a typo in the article– “Boston Properties says it still plans to instill paid parking.” Please don’t replace “instill” with “install” because by God, BP is going to instill paid parking on this community whether it is the right thing to do or not.

    • I don’t know who the brainchild is, but the person responsible is BP’s Peter Johnston.

  • John Weis

    Still BP has not learned anything about “enhancing customer experience.” I have been waiting for our local representative to advise us what she is doing to prevent/encourage this action. I requested her input several months ago but have yet to hear where she stands! Karen – When time gets closer to implementation, it might be helpful to publish a list of businesses that will validate. When I visited Saturday, I found some will validate while others will not. For example, Apple said it was NOT going to validate. Such a shame to lose such a good company.

    • Why do you bother?

      She doesn’t have a say – and she’s always been in bed with developers even if she did.

  • Tom H

    Cool! Glad to still have the option of RTC for weekday lunches at least through the holidays.

  • Guest

    Another entertaining bit to champ: astroturfing of the parking app by BP employees. Quoting ZZTop at RP:

    “Here’s another observation. When you look at the ParkRTC app in the Google Play Store, as I did just a few minutes ago, you’ll see a flurry of mediocre reviews countered by a handful of 5-star ones. Hmm, who are these people so easily pleased by the app? Let’s see:

    “Jason Diller” gave it 5-stars. Property manager for…Boston Properties
    “Jeff Garner” gave it 5-stars. Director of Engineering for…Boston Properties.
    “Wayne Kline” gave it 5-stars. Chief Engineer at…Boston Properties.

    Pretty feeble, I’d say.
    (Source of name>job data: Google + LinkedIn)”

    • 30yearsinreston

      No one in his right mind would use this spyware
      With so few downloads it is doomed

  • RestonGrandma

    Interesting! Previous comments said that petitions and complaints never work but perhaps they do have an impact. Obviously something – either tenants or customers – have made BP pause in this stupid plan. There has been so much publicity about the start date of September 12 that I wonder if people will not get the word of this change and stop coming on that date.

    • Why do you bother?

      I was the one who said that. And while I’m surprised by this move, I suspect it had much more to do with the already dramatic drop in customers and huge revolt by stores than with the petition.

      • RestonGrandma

        Petition signers are up to 7,000+. Can’t believe that BP hasn’t noticed that. That’s more than 10% of Reston residents. And apparently a number of those are already voting with their feet – to somewhere else.

        • Why do you bother?

          BP is not an NGO – it’s a for-profit business. They don’t give a hoot about public sentiment. The only motivating factor in this move is $$.

  • 30yearsinreston

    more spin from BP consultants
    The shopping season is coming up and this revenue enhancing fiasco would cause the retailers and restaurants to takes major hit

  • Joe Heflin

    I think the real problem are residents of the condos and apartments. Parking spaces in these buildings have a price and are limited. I am guessing that a hundred or more tenants park in the various garages for free most nights. There is a value to this. The 500 unit Signature apartments open next year which may add another 100 or more spaces. I actually have no problem charging THEM to park overnight. But not someone VISITING Town Center. I also find the idea of an app to park as potentially intimidating to many who might forego a visit because of it. Also, parking without an app is not convenient once you are there. There is one area in MOST but not all garages where there is a machine to use to pay. There are several steps in using this machine as well as walking there. For many this will be a long walk out of their way while also possibly encountering a long wait behind many others who have no interest in an app. The danger is that Town Center might have people who stop coming and even if they discontinue paid parking, many of these will not return anyway.

    I would suggest a gate and a ticket just like Dulles and Reagan and most everywhere else. Take a ticket when you enter and insert it and a credit card or cash when you leave. And, for the first year of operation, only charge those who park overnight. Say, $10 a night X 200 cars (including the Signature) X 365 days = $730,000. That’s enough money to even staff a booth by the gate. If you must charge in the daytime then perhaps the first three hours are free.

    Anything more complicated is too much.

    • DogPark

      There are 7 or so parking garages. So at a minimum there would need to be 7 or so exit gates. Then there is the need for additional open exit gates during the afternoon rush hour (else everything backs up and people cannot make it to their day care provider to pick up their kids on time – $10 per minute late adds up). So there would be a need for 14 gates or more. Can you redo your math and get back to us as to the economics of it all? I am too lazy to do math.

      • Joe Heflin

        You are assuming that people will use an app. I am suggesting most will not. In truth TC is not set up for paid parking with only one entrance lane and one exit lane. Of course most downtown office buildings are configured like this too and people simply wait in line, car by car to enter and exit while, in most cases, paying at a nearby machine before exiting. I must note here that Tysons Corner has a single entrance/exit gated lane which they installed in anticipation of Metro but have not yet started using.

        You are right that one lane in and one lane out will be slow and frustrating. I just do not believe an app is an alternative. Many of the visitors to TC do not live in the immediate area. Why would they have an app? If one is mandated, I believe that many of them will go elsewhere.

        Even with the app there are going to be long lines at the machines to alternatively pay and the incovenience of walking to and from them.

    • EliteinReston

      Thank you for the constructive insight. See, this is the kind of thing Boston Properties should have addressed up front so we would not have to be guessing at their rationale for the parking fee. If the resident overnight parking is a problem, we would understand that and would be willing to work with BP on a solution. My biggest beef is they never included the community in the first place, which is the Reston way. BP needlessly stained its reputation by refusing to listen to the community and reach a compromise. This is a classic marketing blunder.

    • Tom H

      Problem is not residents parking in the garages. One evening I had a few libations and did the responsible thing of catching a ride home with a friend. I returned to the garage to pick up my car at 7:30 am only to find that it was towed at about 2am.

  • Generic User

    These crisis management hired guns sure love the phrase “world-class.” Have they been out in the world? Having chain restaurants and stores is no unique thing and that will be all that is left after the little guys close up shop. Hilarious.

    But I don’t understand why they have prostitutes available to walk people to their cars (see original press release).

    • Del Mueller

      I don’t know about a “virtual escort” to my vehicle in the garage. I hope my assailant appreciates the power of my smart phone and refrains from attacking me.

      I haven’t been over to RTC to have developed an informed opinion on this paid parking garage. If the issue is commuters and residents in nearby buildings, aren’t those people the ones you would want to target?? And not those people simply coming to visit for a few hours? Simply allow visitors 3-4 hours free parking and then charge any over those limits.

  • dbncoold

    Boston Properties – let me educate you about customer relations; Customers hate being charged for something that should be free, especially when there are tons of better options. They also hate being baited by money hungry companies like you, waiting until your occupancy is high and then trying to sneak new ways to grab their money. The damage is already done, everyone hates BP now. I will avoid going into RTC until BP announces that parking will be free forever.

  • Why do you bother?

    ACTIVISM – FTW!

  • MaggieSays

    I absolutely will take this additional time to educate myself on all the places I can go instead.

  • Mark

    Pay to park is coming. It’s just a matter of time. It’ll be in Tyson’s one day, One Loudoun. Eventually, all the major places will have it especially if served by metrorail. People complain but you can’t go to National Harbor and park your car for less than $10 and no one complains about that. That place is always packed.

    • John

      There is no metro close to National Harbor AND there are no other options on that side of the river that are like National Harbor. So it has a captive audience. This is not the case with RTC. There are lots of other options often within the same driving distance.

  • compactdisqus

    Paid parking stinks, but it will stick around…there will always be people willing to pay as time is money. Initially, the numbers may be low, but I’m sure BP will wait it out. With all this development happening in Reston, paid parking will be the norm for all the new people.

    If the first 2 hours were free, it wouldn’t be a major issue. Heck, even a 1 hour grace period would be something so that one could grab a quick bite, a coffee, or a purchase at a store.

  • ichrysso

    http://a.msn.com/r/2/BBwX9sZ

    Is it so they can investigate other solutions like what Summit, NJ did or maybe is it to investigate what happened in Rockville, MD with their money grab?

    This was never discussed or part of the plan. If so, this would have been codified in every contract already and it appears that the local RTC businesses are all in varying degrees of negotiation with BP over this.

  • mike connor

    Just another reason to avoid Reston, place is a sh*thole anyway. One Loudon, etc. has all of the same places without the parking and traffic hassles. Reston is like Tysons…more perceived value than it actually is.

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