We Like the Nightlife… and Evening Paid Parking Is Helping

In eight Seattle neighborhoods, parking pay stations operate until 8 PM. Ever wonder why? Just as paid parking during the day improves access to business districts, extending paid parking in busy neighborhoods helps open additional parking spaces so that people can get to their evening attractions easily.Evening Paid Parking

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) recently released our evaluation report of evening paid parking based on annual studies of on-street parking across Seattle. Owing to the vitality of our City’s neighborhoods, we find that evening is frequently the most challenging time to find a place to park. From 2011 to 2012, changes were made in eight neighborhoods (representing around 45 percent of total on-street paid spaces citywide) to extend paid parking hours from 6 PM to 8 PM. What have we learned?

Before evening paid parking, occupancy in many neighborhoods at 6 PM and 7 PM exceeded 100 percent. That means that people were driving around, getting frustrated and likely squeezing in to the last small space or risking a ticket by parking illegally. After implementing evening paid parking, occupancies at 6 PM generally moved to within the 70 to 85 percent range. That’s good news.

In 2010, the City Council wrote into the Seattle Municipal Code that we set rates to achieve this desired level of parking occupancy, which results typically in one to two available spaces per block. This means that while the parking is still well-used, visitors have a chance to find paid parking on most blocks. At 7 PM in these neighborhoods, parking becomes scarcer, but it is still easier to find than before evening paid parking was installed.

Extending pay station operations beyond daytime hours encourages people parking overnight to park off-street or out of the heart of a business district during the evening peak. This means that street parking in key locations is more likely available for local business and restaurant customers.

In most neighborhoods with evening paid parking, drivers can purchase up to three hours of parking after 5 PM. Signs indicate neighborhoods where paid parking hours extend to 8 PM and have a three hour max after 5 PM. Check out this entertaining video explaining how it works.

In May, SDOT will present adjustments to paid parking rates, hours of operation and maximum time limits to the City Council. Check back to the SDOT Blog soon for more information!