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Saturday Parking Fee at Wiehle-Reston East Draws Resistance

by Fatimah Waseem January 18, 2018 at 11:30 am 32 Comments

Fairfax County officials are pushing back against a move by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to charge for weekend parking at the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station.

Beginning Feb. 5, WMATA plans to charge a $2 fee parking for Metro users who park in the Metro garage or lot on Saturdays. Parking is currently free at the 2,300-space garage, which is owned by Fairfax County.

“Over the past several years, WMATA’s image has been significantly tarnished. Charging for parking on Saturdays, especially when there are so many reasons not to charge, will not improve WMATA’s image,” county staff wrote in a statement.

The county’s Board of Supervisors, which must approve approve parking changes before they are instituted, will consider the matter at a Jan. 23 meeting. The county currently contracts with WMATA to remotely monitor parking garage gates and fare collections while WMATA maintains equipment and processes SmarTrip and credit card payments.

County staff charging fees could decrease weekend ridership — especially when demand for parking is already low on weekends.

“WMATA may actually lose more many from lost rail fares than it gains from the new parking fee,” according to a statement.

Staff listed other reasons to oppose the parking fee:

  • Requires additional costs to maintain equipment and oversee personnel.
  • Discourages new riders, who often try Metro on weekend, from using the service.
  • Is inconsistent with the region’s goal of providing alternatives to single-occupant vehicles.
  • Discourages Metrorail trips, ultimately increasing weekend congestion and air pollution.
  • Makes an already challenging commute for weekend riders — who often deal with delays due to maintenance work on weekends — even harder.

In a statement, WMATA said charging for weekend parking will “allow Metro to maximize utilization of parking facilities without increasing the daily parking rate for Metro customers on weekdays.”

WMATA is also planning to extend the hours of parking fee collections on weekdays — a move the county officials support. Charges for parking will begin at 7:30 a.m. instead of 9:30 a.m. On Fridays, fees will continue through 2 a.m. instead of 1 a.m.

Additional fees collected through the change will generate additional revenue that will help pay off debt service payments on bolds sold to fund additional Metrorail parking. The garage was built by Comstock Partners’ through a public-private partnership with the county.

Comstock’s Reston Station development, a major mixed-use project, sits above the garage.

File photo.

  • 40yearsinreston

    Another Hudgins failure
    She is a disgrace

    • Mike M

      Hudgins, Bulova, Connolly, Plum. It’s getting out that Reston wallets are being held wide open.

  • The Constitutionalist

    Hmm, it’s almost like someone knows economics and can see what will happen when you increase the total price of a good or service in comparison to its demand.

  • Greendayer

    Fairfax County should overturn this proposal by WMATA. It’s ignorant and short-sighted. All one has to do is wander over to the Reston Town Center where Boston Properties continues to get a daily education about stupidity in deciding to charge for parking at inopportune times or places.

    • Why do you bother?

      The county has no jurisdiction to overturn anything Metro imposes.

      • JoeInReston

        The article states that the county’s Board of Supervisors have to approve the parking changes before they are instituted and will consider the matter at a Jan. 23 meeting.

        I can only surmise that because the county owns the garage, they have some say in the matter.

      • Greendayer

        Good news. The County did overturn it. Your information is incorrect.

        • Why do you bother?

          I’m happy to have been wrong.

  • cRAzy

    That should help Silver Line ridership even more! Pretty soon, WMATA might as well shut down the line.

  • How do they do it over there?

    WMATA should visit sister cities and travel to it2her continents in order to understand the global dynamics of the situation. How does Russia, Germany, Kazakhstan deal with paid parking? The West is easily influenced by short term gains so I count on WMATA to go deep and research this issue by funding this overseas expedition. Hopefully all WMATA board members will clear their schedules to make this important trip.

    Pop quiz: Name the sister cities of Reston, incl country and continent.

    • Mike M

      So, when and to where will you move? They are all so superior. Shall I help you pack?

    • cRAzy

      You forgot the part about when the WMATA Board NEVER comes back. That will help tremendously.

      • 40yearsinreston

        I hope Hudgins is part of the delegation and never comes back

  • parking

    I’ve given up on taking metro on the weekends anyway. Wait 20 minutes for a train. Turns out silver isn’t going all the way to DC. Stop in Ballston to switch to orange. Wait for another train. Often would take me 90 min to DC (took 120 to Alexandria once). Plus it costs more than driving? Nope. (and this coming from someone who lived here for a year without a car, trying to use public transportation, because I really didn’t want to buy one).

    • Greg

      You made the right choice.

    • vdiv

      We ain’t seen nothing yet. Wait until the new I-66 HOT turns into a permanent toll akin to the DTR.

    • Why do you bother?

      I decided a couple of years ago not to take any job that I can’t drive to. Metro is a nightmare.

  • Mike M

    Metro has proven it cannot fix itself with more money and lower service offering. Heck, they shut down to do a detailed review and overhaul then promptly failed again. They are broken. Chalk it up to donkey-like union labor. It’s really a great tragedy. Disgusting. Lethal.

    • OneReally

      Re: Privatizing Silver Line

      I thought you might get a kick out of what the union rep had to say.

      “WMATA is not seeking a traditional outsourcing solution. Rather, it is seeking one or more partners that can utilize their experience, creativity and market-driven operating structures to provide an improved level of service on the Silver Line at a reduced cost to the public,” Metro says in its letter to potential contractors.

      The move is likely to be opposed by Metro’s largest union, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, which has argued that Wiedefeld’s push toward privatization will be bad for riders and will ultimately cost more in the long-run.

      “You don’t have to leave this city or this region to understand that privatizing public transit does not work,” Anthony Garland, international representative of ATU Local 689, said last month. “People will run this system down, make the money they can, and when it runs down, they’ll leave and go somewhere else.”

      • Richard

        The union rep is correct.

        • OneReally

          I guess the Union has acted in the best interest of Metro?

          – Constant escalator failures
          – Falsification of maintenance records
          Check out @unsuckdcmetro for the maintenance memo sent out 2 days ago.

        • The Constitutionalist

          No, he isn’t.

          Then again, this all just stems back at your public education not including mandatory economics classes, couldn’t have that in our post capitalist Keynesian paradise.

      • Greg

        No, Tony Garland, that’s what happened when we let the government and unions run metro. Then we gave you gobs of money, and we have service worse than ever and costs higher than ever. Oh, and a derailment that busted up the brand new cars.

        Madness to continue and doomed to fail. Again.

  • Richard

    That parking garage is a total disaster anyway. It’s as if the garage and associated road signage were intentionally designed to be as confusing as possible. Did you notice that the simplest route takes you right into Comstock’s parking garage that charges $10 on weekends, as opposed to free if you negotiate yourself through the labyrinth to get to the Fairfax County parking garage next door? What a racket.

  • EliteinReston

    Metro officials apparently did not pay attention to the Boston Properties fiasco at the Reston Town Center. The lesson learned there is that it is awfully hard to “retrofit” a fee on people who are used to paying nothing. The time to impose a fee is when a garage first opens.

    • Dale

      Actually I think they did pay attention. Nothing changes here in Reston. People make witty comments after events and continue to do nothing!

  • Denise

    Is this a change they’re looking to implement at all the parking lots or just at Wiehle-Reston?

    • JoeInReston

      All parking lots… From https://www.wmata.com/about/news/012018-Metro-advises-customers-0f-parking-changes-effective-February-5.cfm :

      On Saturdays beginning February 10, a parking fee of $2 will be charged for Metrorail riders who park at Metro garages and lots. (Individuals who park at a Metro facility but do not use the rail system may be charged a higher fee at selected lots. See “Non-Rider Parking Fees” below.) Parking on Sundays and federal holidays will remain free except when special event parking rules are in effect.

      —-
      btw – The higher fee for non riders does not apply to the Reston garage

  • JoeInReston

    “Relax,” said the night man, “We are programmed to collect Metro fees.
    You can avoid the Metro any time you like, but you can never avoid the
    fees”

    As much as we can pout and vow never to take the Metro, this is a lose lose battle.

    You can avoid the Metro parking and riders costs by driving, but eventually you will hit the main toll plaza where the toll collector will collect $2.50, and that doesn’t include the trip back. That also doesn’t count the $1.00 for the on/off ramps onto 267.

    Either way you will pay Metro fees…

    • The Constitutionalist

      Or you can not take the toll road.

      • JoeInReston

        If you are considering taking the Metro, than you are likely going to Arlington or DC. It would be costly and painful to use the Metro to go to Tysons only. So as a Restonite, how do you get to or beyond I66 Glebe without passing through the main toll plaza? I suppose you could try to go south to 66 before going east. That sounds more trouble than whats it worth.

        • The Constitutionalist

          I commuted to and from DC for years and paid zero tolls. I took 7 to Lewinsville, hopped on the GW, and jumped on 395. There are a myriad of different, effective ways to get to Arlington or DC that don’t require you to pay the tolls.

          You might sacrifice a few minutes some days, I guess you have to decide what your time is worth.

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