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New parking zones in D.C.

parking zones.jpg
District Department of Transportation map shows parking pilots in central Washington.

Back in January, when the District was raising the prices at meters, drivers said that what they really hated about the higher fees was lugging around all those quarters. Since then, the city has been working on a variety of payment methods: pay-by-space, pay-by-license plate and pay-by-phone.

Transportation Director Gabe Klein continues to push innovations in the use of D.C. streets, which I think is a good thing, whether it's about parking or streetcars or bike lanes or bridge building. But as someone who still has trouble figuring out the no-longer-new multi-space meters, I'm sympathetic to parkers who puzzle over some of the pilot programs.

Have you had good or bad luck with the various systems that the District is launching? Do you park at enough locations across the city so that you've had to learn several new systems? (Some drivers thought it was tough enough just figuring out the change in the nighttime parking rules introduced in June.)

In addition to the locator map above, DDOT offers a list of the parking programs launching this month:
1) Parkeon will operate pay-by-space meters in the 900-1200 blocks of Independence Avenue SW. Multi-space meters replace the single-space meters in that zone. Enter the number of the space when paying with a credit card or bills. (Many drivers will prefer that to the older style of multi-space meters that accept credit cards or coins but not bills.) Parkeon also offers a pay-by-phone option.

2) Duncan Solutions will be operating pay-by-space meters on several streets in Friendship Heights: the 5300 block of Wisconsin Avenue, the 4300 and 4200 blocks of Jenifer Street and the north side of the 5200 block of 44th Street. Pay with a credit card or coins. (This location is north of the area covered by the map above.)

3) ParkMobile will operate a pay-by-phone pilot that will cover about a thousand metered spaces in Foggy Bottom, on Reservoir Road in Georgetown, and around Nationals Park.

Drivers can sign up at, where they can also download a mobile application to pay for parking from a smart phone. ParkMobile will waive its transaction fees during this pilot program. See a video explaining how ParkMobile's pay-by-phone system works.

4) Cale Parking Systems USA will operate a pay-by-license plate pilot in the 1300 block of U Street NW. Drivers will enter their license plate numbers in multi-space meters. Parking enforcement officers will be able to tell who has paid for parking by electronically reading the tag numbers. They can pay with a credit card or coins, and there will also be a pay-by-phone option.

If that sounds confusing, or ominous, look for vendor staff who will be on the street to offer assistance.

DDOT says it's going to evaluate these pilot programs for three months and see what works best for the long-term.

Already in operation
Some of you already have used the pay-by-phone pilot DDOT launched in April at 700 spaces around Dupont Circle, Union Station, and downtown on K Street, I (Eye) Street and New York Avenue NW. Sign up for that service, offered by Verrus Mobile Technologies, Inc., at or call 1-888-510-PARK (7275). See a video explaining this service.

DDOT also is testing solar-powered single space meters that take credit cards as well as coins.

Drivers parking in the District may well have to live with the results of these experiments for a long time. DDOT invites feedback on any of the pilot programs by e-mail at or by calling 202-673-6813. I'd like to hear from you, too, either here in the comments area or by e-mail to (If you're sending a letter to me for potential publication in The Post, please include your full name, home community and a phone number where I can contact you.)

By Robert Thomson  | July 22, 2010; 9:54 AM ET
Categories:  District, Driving  | Tags:  DDOT, Dr. Gridlock  
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Are the "pay-by-space" areas parallel parking or diagonal parking? Since it's Independence Avenue, I'm assuming it means parallel parking. Entering a space number implies that there must be designated numbered parking spaces occupied by each car. That sort of setup works better with diagonal parking because the width of diagonal spaces is normally standard. For parallel parking, it stinks because it's inefficient. If there are several small cars parked there, another small car will often be able to fit in if you use a standard multi-space "pay-and-display" meter (or if you use the "pay-by-plate" Dr. Gridlock describes), but if you do "pay-by-space" then another small car cannot legally park, even if there is space, if all the designated parallel parking spaces are filled. That might be fine in smaller cities or rural towns down South. It's a bad idea in a city like DC where parking is tight in the first place. If there is room for you to park your car on a block, you should be able to do so, assuming of course that you're not on the hydrant or too close to the intersection or whatever. This is one reason why the "pay-and-display" meters represent a big advance over the old system of having one meter per car--they free up parkers to use the space more efficiently.

I haven't looked at the "pay-by-cell" link yet, so I'll have to do so. As someone who has a straightforward phone that phones, without all this e-mail and web browser and camera garbage, I'm automatically suspicious. Will you HAVE to pay with a cell phone?

Posted by: 1995hoo | July 22, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

OK, following up, after I posted my prior comment I looked at the ParkMobile site and I noted that you can use it by calling a toll-free number, so you need not have a web-enabled cell phone. That's a good thing. Hype notwithstanding, I'd wager the majority of people do not carry so-called "smartphones."

Posted by: 1995hoo | July 22, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

how does "pay nothing" sound and stay out of DC....?

sorry, I don't do DC.

Posted by: OldSalt8 | July 22, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse

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