TRANSPORTATION • BY AMANADA ZIADEH
The increased long-term parking rates in the Silver Spring Parking Lot District went into affect Jan. 1 after the Montgomery County Council approved the increase in May as part of the fiscal year 2012 budget.
Short-term parking for four hours or less will remain $.75 per hour, where long-term parking for more than four hours has increased to 60 cents per hour. Monthly passes in parking garages also increased by 18 dollars, to 113 dollars a month. The hours of payment, however, remain the same.
Montgomery Council President Roger Berliner said the County Executive recommended this increase to go into effect in July 2011 to boost the revenue in the Silver Spring Parking Lot District. The Council unanimously agreed, but the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee decided to wait until January to put this increase into affect.
The reason for postponing the change, Berliner said, was to give Silver Spring businesses and commuters more time to adjust to the increase.
According to Public Information Officer Esther Bowring for the Montgomery County Department of Transportation, the Montgomery County Council decided to raise the parking rates in order “to maintain the fiscal health of the Silver Spring Parking Lot District enterprise fund,” and, “to reduce the current discount for all day parkers.”
Bowring said the parking fees are separately collected to fund the services provided by the Ride On bus system and by the Silver Spring Urban District, and are also used to fund the operations of the parking facilities which are not a part of the general fund of the county.
The Urban District also maintains the streetscape, provides security, and sponsors cultural and community events that ultimately bring the people of Silver Spring to the business district, Berliner said. This, in turn, helps to thrive the economy.
In addition, the rate increase is meant to lesson the difference between the higher short-term rates and the lower long-term rates. According to Bowring, the rates to park for a few hours have been higher per hour than the rates to park all day.
This increase is not all about money, as it is said to encourage higher occupancy vehicles and therefore reduce roadway congestion and pollution from greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.