Parking Meter FAQ

Why is the National Park Service starting to charge for parking?
Charging for parking is a well-established and effective public management tool where demand exceeds supply; no-cost street parking encourages more vehicle use and generates traffic. Parking charges encourage users to use parking efficiently; with parking spaces turning over more frequently, more users are accommodated.

The National Park Service has three primary objectives for the meters on the National Mall:

• create more frequent turnover of limited parking spaces;
• encourage the use of public transportation options, including Metro rail and bus, DC Circulator, and Capital Bikeshare;
• and provide revenue to create and improve affordable visitor transportation.

Metered city streets currently surround the National Mall and are even located on the D.C. streets that cross the National Mall at 3rd, 4th and 7th streets. The D.C. portion of Constitution Avenue east of 14th Street is already metered. Having only a few areas with free parking in the city results in additional congestion in the National Mall area with cars searching for free parking on our roads.

Why is this being implemented with no advance notice or opportunity for public input?
The implementation of parking meters on the National Mall is the culmination of more than a decade of planning.

A civic engagement process for the implementation of metered parking was conducted in January and February of 2014, with a public meeting and 60-day comment period. Additionally, a notice was published in the Federal Register for six-months.

Which streets are being metered?
Approximately 1,200 public parking spaces are being metered in the following locations:

• Constitution Avenue NW between 15th Street NW and 23rd Street NW
• Parkway Drive SW
• Ohio Drive SW in West Potomac Park (between Independence Ave and Inlet Bridge)
• West Basin Drive SW (entire length, between Ohio Drive and Independence Avenue)
• Tidal Basin parking lot (paddle boats)
• Madison Drive NW
• Jefferson Drive SW
• Lots A, B and C on Ohio Drive SW (East Potomac Park)
• Lot on Buckeye Drive (adjacent to tennis courts)

Additionally the nine designated bus parking spaces along Independence Avenue between 15th Street and Survey Lodge will be metered as well.

Is there any free parking left?
Over 300 spaces on Ohio Drive in East Potomac Park (east and south of Buckeye Drive) around Hains Point are still free.

How will the meters work?
The National Mall will be utilizing the same multi-space parking meters that are used throughout the city, resulting in convenience and familiarity for users. Credit/debit cards only (no cash/coin) are accepted at the meters; the Parkmobile app and website can also be used to pay.

The on-street meters will be “pay and display” – the meter prints you a ticket showing the expiration time which is displayed on the vehicle dashboard. The meters in the parking lots will use a “pay by plate” system, where you enter your license plate information in the meter.

When will the metering take place?
Installation of the meters will begin on or about May 15. Activation and enforcement of the meters is scheduled to begin on June 12.

How much will it cost and when do I have to pay?
Beginning January 1, 2020 the rate is $2.30 per hour for a 3 hour period, in effect from 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. every day of the year except December 25. Once the three hours have expired, it will not be possible to add additional time to the meter.

How about holidays and weekends?
The meters will be enforced every day of the year except December 25, the only day the National Mall sites are officially closed.

How about disabled motorists?
There is still designated parking for vehicles displaying disability parking permits, placards and vehicle tags, but in the areas that are metered those spaces will be required to pay the meter now as well. This is consistent with D.C.’s meters in the city’s Central Business District.

What about motorcoaches and tour buses?
In the areas where tour bus parking are permitted, buses will be charged $6.90/hour with a 3 hour limit. Tour bus loading/unloading spaces will not be charged. There will be a 30 minute limit for loading/unloading.

What about motorcycles?
Motorcycles can park in the parking lots (A,B,C) areas off of Ohio Drive where the meters are “pay by plate” or by using the Parkmobile app.

Who will be enforcing the parking meters?
Under a Memorandum of Agreement with the District of Columbia, enforcement of the meters will be the responsibility of city’s Department of Public Works. Revenue from parking tickets will go to D.C. U.S. Park Police will continue to provide support for parking enforcement.

Where does the revenue from the meters go?
The net revenue will be used for projects to enhance the visitor experience on the National Mall, including funding the National Park Service portion of the operational costs for the National Mall Circulator route. Developed in partnership with D.C. Department of Transportation, the National Mall Circulator route has 15 stops at the major destinations throughout the National Mall (including Metro stops). The service is convenient, low cost ($1) and frequent (every 10 minutes), with stops within walking distance of nearly 30 monuments, memorials and museums.

What if someone reports that a meter needs to be repaired?
The contractor is responsible for repairs to the meters. Visitors or staff can report meter outages using the 24-hour call-in number that will be posted on each meter.

Last updated: December 19, 2019

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