Public Parking Prices Soar

Parking prices on the street at public garages in Montgomery County shot up again on July 1. This is just the latest in a series of major increases.

In Bethesda, street parking prices went up 12.5% from $2.00 to $2.25 per hour. Garage pricing jumped by 25%, rising from $0.80 to $1.00 per hour in regular garages, and from $1.00 to $1.25 per hour in popular garages.

Silver Spring parking is a relative bargain. Street parking prices remained unchanged at $1.00 per hour. Regular garages saw their prices increase a nickel or 7.7% from $0.65 to $0.70. However, pricing in popular garages jumped 53.8% from $0.65 to $1.00.

This marks the latest in a series of increases since 2009 that have raised parking prices well above the rate of inflation. The following graphs compare public parking inflation over the last ten years to the consumer price index (CPI) with all set to 100 for 2009.* Each year shows the price change on January 1, so this year’s bump is shown as 2018.

Bethesda has been especially hard hit. In 2009, prices were just $0.50 for long-term garage spaces, and $0.75 on the street. Since then, parking charges have jumped 100% in garages, 150% in popular garages, and 200% on the street. The CPI went up just 11%.

Despite starting in 2009 at the same base as in Bethesda, prices have increased less in Silver Spring. There have still been substantial price hikes, resulting in parking inflation of 33% on the street, 40% in garages, and 100% in popular garages. Still, it is now relatively cheaper to park in Silver Spring than Bethesda—a real benefit to both consumers and business there.

Montgomery citizens increasingly complain about property and income taxes. But fees like parking rates have often quietly been increased at even faster rates.

*Note: MoCo changed its method of parking charges in 2013. The categories of short term and long term were eliminated in favor of a new division into on-street, lots, and garages with popular garages having a surcharge. I’ve compared on-street parking to the previous short-term rate, and garage parking to the previous long-term rate, as this appears reasonable. If anything, it biases the estimates of on-street parking inflation down.