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The Cost Of Metered Street Parking In Austin Is Going Up

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon

The cost of parking in a metered, on-street space in Austin is going up. Beginning Monday, Oct. 14, the standard meter rate around Austin will be $2 per hour.

The current metered rate is $1.20 inside the city’s downtown core, from I-35 to Lamar Boulevard, and Lady Bird Lake to 10th Street. Meters outside that zone charge $1 per hour. Now all of them will cost $2 an hour.

"This rate modernization better represents the true value of street parking. It also supports the City of Austin’s goals of providing more mobility options and reducing single-occupancy vehicle trips," Robert Spillar, the director of the Austin Transportation Department, said.

The price increase was approved by the Austin City Council as part of the 2019-2020 budget. In a memo released Monday, the ATD said the city’s parking system was intended for short parking stays and quick turnover of vehicles.

But ATD staff said drivers often exceed meter time restrictions, leaving their cars in spots much longer than they are allowed. Drivers are supposed to move their cars after the posted time limit, rather than extending their stays.

A 2017 study by Downtown Austin Alliance found that 30% of congestion can be attributed to drivers looking for parking. ATD has found the typical occupancy rate for on-street parking during the day downtown is around 100%.

“You need at least 15% to 20% of the available street supply open and available,” said Jason Redfern, ATD parking enterprise manager. “So that way when I’m driving around downtown, I’m not distracted looking for that parking space, I know on any given block that I could find an available parking space.”

Redfern said the department will monitor parking usage quarterly.

“We’re going to do occupancy and turnover studies to make sure that we’re seeing the behavior we want, if we don’t then we will incrementally change those prices,” he said. “We could go six months or a year, and if we see the results we want to see, then we won’t make any adjustments at all.”

To address concerns about affordability, ATD is encouraging workers in the service and entertainment industries to consider the Affordable Parking Program, which offers spaces in downtown garages for $30 to $65 per month.

This post has been updated.

Jerry Quijano is the local All Things Considered anchor for KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @jerryquijano.
Samuel King covers transportation and mobility for KUT News.
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