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Afternoon Discussion: Does Reston Town Center’s Paid Parking System Need More Outreach?

by Karen Goff — September 9, 2016 at 4:15 pm 42 Comments

ParkRTC AppPaid parking at Reston Town Center is still coming.

While the postponement until January of the app-based paid parking system ($2 an hour on weekdays) may seem like a victory for those in favor of free parking, it is only a temporary one.

A source familiar with the thinking of Boston Properties, which owns town center, says there is “no indication” to amend the plans, which feature the app; a safety component called LiveSafe; a complicated Bluetooth-enabled validation feature at some merchants; the ability to pay by cash or credit card at four kiosks; and wayfinding systems to determine locations of available spots.

According to the source, the backlash from thousands of consumers (both in an online petition and in comments of Reston Now and other news and social media sites) had nothing to do with the delay.

Rather, the system is complicated (also a top complaint from users, along with privacy concerns). Boston Properties said it needs additional time to “educate” merchants and Reston Town Center visitors how to use it.

“Boston Properties wanted more time for outreach,” said Rob Weinold, the communications rep hired by the RTC owner for the parking rollout, which has been scheduled to be put in place on Sept. 12.

“We will be working with merchants,” he said. “We will be doing outreach at events such as concerts. We will update out FAQs on our website and doing ads and promotions. We need to get people more comfortable with the technology.”

As of Thursday, about 6,500 people have downloaded the ParkRTC app, Weinhold said.

But at least that many are likely saying they refuse to download the app because privacy concerns. Still more are saying they will avoid the town center altogether when they have to pay to park.

And still more take issue with the idea that they need more instructions and education, as Boston Properties said earlier this week.

Said these commenters on Reston Now’s Facebook page:

Really? We don’t need no education (to quote Pink Floyd). We’re just not going to add this app on our smart phones. … and we’re not going to pay to eat and shop. Period. …

Additional time to educate customers? It’s truly hilarious that Boston Properties thinks the public believes this baloney. They are just worried about losing revenue from holiday shoppers. The fact that they had to start a gift card raffle in order to entice people to download the app speaks volumes. …

I think it is Boston Properties that needs some education. We the consumers know what we want…free parking. Perhaps they will get it when their tenants move out because they are losing the foot traffic they depend on.

What say you? Will additional time and instructions make pay parking easier for you? Or have you gotten the message loud and clear already?

  • meh

    No amount of time or ‘education’ is going to result in my installing of said application. There are countless issues with the process, primarily being security.

    When one downloads the app and associates it with name, vehicle information and the like that’s something being sold to the highest bidder (IF, not when). Then Boston Properties requires bluetooth to do the validation. Most people will have bluetooth on. Now in a perfect world with no signal loss and wide-open spaces you’ve got a range of 328 feet. So, if the store(s) place these sensors on their doors they’ll know the entry and exit time of each store you were at.

    Please educate me on how my shopping patterns, time of arrival and departure along with other factors such as the make and model of my car should be required for this ‘elite experience’?

    There are other issues with the system, but these are the main ones. And going back to what so many have said – there are a lot of other places in town to get a bite to eat or shop.

    Enjoy that last cash grab of the seasonal holidays, because come January the loss drop will be drastic

  • Edward Calvert

    How is this something different? They are just kicking the can down the road to avoid the holidays, no ? The backlash will still come in January I would think. Maybe it will come down to BP pocketing all that cheddar vs the retailer losing customers? Or maybe enough people will still pay to park ? Seems to be a lot of anger out there as free parking exists so many other places . Even people close to rtc can hop over to another shopping area in a reasonable drive

  • AlliD

    No. This is not going to work even with the best “education”. If they didn’t want this to look like a money grab, they would make the first 3 to 4 hours free, free evenings and weekends. They can’t educate me to want to use their stupid app.

  • Scott H

    Yes. Much like the white house said about Obamacare, the issue is education of the stupid peasants who can’t see the wisdom.
    Let me break it down for the smart people.
    Reston is a suburb
    Parking has always been free at RTC
    The excuse of commuter parking as justification is an obvious lie.
    People don’t like being lied to.
    There are many retail and restaurant choices in the area so people don’t need to patronize those that lie to them.

    But go ahead, educate away and then wonder why RTC merchants meet the same fate of Obamacare. Economics are a b*tch!

  • 30yearsinreston

    Typical consultant response: we weren’t wrong, the customers ate just ignorant and need to.be educated

    The locals , at least some of them, aren’t as green as they are cabbage looking

    My 40 years experience in the IT industry precludes me from downloading this Trojan horse app,. Bluetooth works both ways and is not seecure

    If I have to pay for parking, I have better choices than RTC

    • Chuck Morningwood

      “Typical consultant response: we weren’t wrong, the customers ate just ignorant and need to.be educated”
      =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
      It’s very Trumpian. Just look at how Jakazz responded to Democratic cries of “Foul!” after Jakazz implied that the Russians should hack and release the Dem’s email systems.

  • Generic User

    Of course the hired spin doctors will never admit that BP was wrong or panicking, they were hired for spin and that is what they are doing. I am surprised that Weinold didn’t use the term “world-class” several times while he was talking to you. “Boston Properties wanted more time for world-class outreach.” “We need to get people more comfortable with the world-class technology.”

    No amount of “education” will make me change my mind, I am not downloading your spyware app so you can sell my data and I am not paying for your parking. So until you change your policy so that I can park in your garage for 2 or 3 hours for free during the week without the app, I will go elsewhere with my business. It is that simple, BP.

  • Greendayer

    Boston Properties (BP) is welcome to do what they want. And We, The People are also welcome to do what we want. The lies and the arrogance don’t help BP. I’m not paying to park at RTC. I suspect I’ll have lots of company.

  • John

    The beating will continue until morale improves!

  • Chuck Morningwood

    Gotta love it. In a veiled gesture of magnanimity, BP decides not to destroy their tenants “make it or break it” Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year’s profits.

    Two words for you, BP: Tall Oaks.

  • Nate_VA

    We went to RTC for dinner tonight, and it was pretty quiet for a Friday night. Has the parking fee impact begun already?

    • Why do you bother?

      I’m guessing not a lot of people know that it’s been postponed.

      • JoeInReston

        I was there on Friday too and can concur the place was rather dull for a Friday night. I guess its possible that people were afraid of the parking fees, but they wouldn’t be in effect even if the parking fees hadn’t been postponed. The parking fees were going to take effect today, Monday, Step 12 (IIRC).

  • PerkyBuns

    Somebody “owns” some property that others have been leaching free parking off of for years at the owners expense. When said owner decides it would like to return a profit off said property, the freeloaders cry “unfair, unfair, I am no longer going to pay more than most others can afford for expensive overpriced meals and drinks at RTC establishments”, whah whah whah blasts the whambulance…
    The crybabies post on Facebook and other info thieves their discontent of how the new parking app is violating their personal belief system, and as a result, would rather spend their “free time” travelling to places far and wide to vacuum coppers from their tight pockets.
    Give me a break already… get over yourselves and cough up the overdue tithe.

    • Mike M

      You seem to miss lots, so I’ll explain it to you as best I can. BP makes money off of their property. So there is no freeloading. The cost of the garage is already built into the rent the retailers pay. If they need to up that, they are free to do so. Instead, they made another choice, which is undoubtedly more expensive to them and their renters clientele. Then, they lied about it. This more expensive choice also spies on the clientele. The clientele don’t like that. It all comes down to whether this works for BP or not. Maybe it will. Maybe it won’t. I will avoid the RTC during paying time. So, for whom do you work? I think I know.

      • PerkyBuns

        Let me re-adjust my tinfoil hat…. Oh Yes!! I see what you mean now… those btards.

        • Mike M

          Remove the tinfoil hat.
          Put down the tinfoil hat.
          Step away from the tinfoil hat.

          Should be clearer now.

    • Adam Smith-Fail

      …responds the church of conspicuous consumption.

    • John

      Don’t fee the Troll!!!

  • Adrian Havill

    BP has already blinked twice. They’ll blink again in January after a few days of empty restaurants and stores.

  • Ming the Merciless

    “Outreach” = lipstick on a pig. But hey keep trying to “outreach” your way into convincing people that you’re not milking them of money for no good reason.

  • Mike M

    How do you get away with BS when i can’t even say black or white?

  • Mike M

    How can you say BS, when I can’t even say [email protected] or whi1te without a delay? Scroll.

    • Why do you bother?

      He’s talking economics, not racism, Mike….Your failure to see the difference emphasizes the point.

      • Mike M

        I am talking about filters. You are writing about . . .?

  • zaphod

    I have one thing to say, BP are fools. I hate to break the news to them, but they aren’t that smart. This is a money grab, plain and simple. Want to discourage commuters, do what Tysons Corner Mall did, close the gates until 10am (except for employees with passes), then open up the gate. That gets rid of 90% of commuters. No amount of education will change my mind, and I will not get another stupid app, don’t want or need. Also I think people have been finding their cars quite well for many years, stop being fools BP.

  • Why do you bother?

    No, it needs a stake in its greedy little heart. How insulting to imply that we sheep are just too stupid to get it!

  • ewh410

    I’ve already started shopping and dining to Herndon and Dulles. Goodbye RTC. I hope Boston Properties goes under because of this. Guess what BP? A vengeful consumer is more destructive than a disgruntled one.

    • Herndon has a meals tax.

      • cRAzy

        OMG! If you can afford the meal, you can afford the tax + a generous tip!

        • Well if you cannot afford a 40 cent meal tax go to the town center rather than Herndon. :).

  • Thirty percent of the shop etc owners in the TC are said to be at the margins financially and this could result in a huge loss for RTC especially if the predicted recession comes this fall. And Trump is going to whack the federal budget the source of most money around here. So let’s wait til January and see where the economy is at that time before making parking more difficult..

  • 50% paycut

    To me the town center is an island, difficult to get in and out of. There are two stores that I may go to from time to time, but these are easy to find elsewhere. That said, the parking fees are just convincing me to go elsewhere. My budget is low, BP will not notice my departure.

    When I first came to America in the early eighties I was surprised to find low taxes, few parking meters and very few speed traps. Now basically it’s like the EU, half our income goes to tax and some form of fee collection. The town center just reflects this trend, it’s evident all over the US now.

    That said, the US is hardly the place most foreigners would move to unless their home country is corrupt, or lawless or at war etc. To those people the town center is probably a true elite destination.

  • MsMarlynn

    My concern? I live at the town center in condos and my question – if they put in parking meters does it mean my friends have to pay to visit me? Not cool. May be time to move once my lease is up. Never lived anywhere where friends had to pay to park to come and visit. There are more problems ahead for residential properties. This has not been discussed.

  • Arielle in NoVA

    No, more time won’t make me want their app. More instructions won’t make me want their app. Paid parking won’t make me want to go to RTC. FREE parking, with NO app, and I’ll enjoy going there. Otherwise – there are plenty of other places I’d rather do business.

  • RestonLyons

    I shopped at Eddie Bauer when it was there and also at Gap. Now I don’t shop there. We don’t like the noisy restaurants, eat out there maybe 2X a year. We occasionally go to a movie there. I do go to the Apple Store and the gelato shop once in awhile and get my hair cut there. We live close so will never drive there. It is definitely my LEAST favorite place to shop. The similar type shopping center near Fair Oaks Mall is nicer except for the restaurants

  • Dr Death

    Retail therapy is twice as effective if it comes with a dose of parking meter and ongoing monitoring.

  • Nancy

    I will boycott RTC when they start charging for parking. And I will sign petitions until Boston Properties realizes the significant error of their ways. And I will picket at RTC to inform the sheeples how their privacy is being taken away from them just so investors can get a maximum return on their investment.

    • Edward Calvert

      I will admit I am ignorant on a few things. I signed a petition. But where does it go ? Does anyone actually communicate with the property people who are all about parking, or do they just put out press releases to the unwashed masses ?

      • Tom

        Petitions mean nothing, zip, zero, nada. They couldn’t care less, they’ll do what they want.

  • Peter Johnston should listen to his tenants’ customers. After all, he is the man behind the plan. http://ir.bostonproperties.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=120176&p=irol-govBio&ID=186918

  • avejoe1

    If Boston Properties needs more time to “educate” the retailer then the system is unnecessarily over complex, but what else would you expect from a company that takes away a large parking lot on the first day of the Christmas shopping season. There are exactly zero reasons for me to have to download an app just to go shopping, I.E. it’s not going to happen.

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