If you drive to a Metro station with parking after rush hour, are you likely to find the lot full, or be able to park? Here’s a diagram to help you.

Image by Peter Dovak.

A Montgomery County couple that lives in a car-dependent area, but is interested in trying to use Metro, asked this question recently. They’re not going to use it for commuting, but might go downtown mid-day. The rush will have ended, which also means some parking lots might fill up, and they don’t want to go to a station only to find no spaces.

Unfortunately, Metro does not have a real-time tracker to tell riders (or potential riders) exactly how full a lot is at any given time. It would be great if an app could show you, but given everything WMATA has to do right now, it’s also understandably perhaps not the top priority.

We can, however, get a good idea from historical information. Metro does track how many people pay to park at each lot. Sherri Ly, WMATA media relations manager, sent this June 2015 parking report. It gives the parking capacity for each station and also the “utlization,” which is the number of people who paid to park per weekday, divided by the number of spaces.

The numbers are below, and Peter Dovak visualized this data in the above diagram. On the image, each circle’s area is proportional to the number of spaces in the lot, and the colored inner circle’s area is proportional to the average utilization for fiscal year 2015.

Lot Capacity Paid Utilization
Station/Region June 2015 June 2014 June 2015 FY 2015 YTD June 2014 FY 2014 YTD

MONTGOMERY COUNTY

Grosvenor 1,894 1,894 103% 98% 103% 98%
White Flint 1,270 1,270 57% 62% 56% 53%
Twinbrook 1,097 1,097 65% 61% 65% 60%
Rockville 524 524 109% 103% 109% 103%
Shady Grove 5,745 5,745 91% 85% 91% 86%
Glenmont 2,998 2,998 82% 81% 82% 73%
Wheaton 977 977 31% 29% 31% 31%
Forest Glen 596 596 102% 96% 102% 95%
Montgomery Total 15,101 15,101 83% 79% 83% 78%

PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY

New Carrollton 3,519 3,519 91% 81% 90% 84%
Landover 1,866 1,866 41% 39% 41% 40%
Cheverly 500 500 96% 81% 96% 85%
Addison Road 1,268 1,268 51% 50% 51% 48%
Capitol Heights 372 372 89% 80% 89% 80%
Greenbelt 3,399 3,399 81% 72% 80% 74%
College Park 1,820 1,820 66% 55% 66% 57%
P.G. Plaza 1,068 1,068 46% 46% 46% 44%
West Hyattsville 453 453 95% 84% 95% 86%
Southern Avenue 1,980 1,980 61% 52% 61% 58%
Naylor Road 368 368 107% 98% 107% 100%
Suitland Garage 1,890 1,890 67% 61% 67% 60%
Branch Avenue 3,072 3,072 103% 94% 102% 94%
Morgan Blvd. 608 608 89% 88% 89% 84%
Largo 2,200 2,200 89% 84% 88% 83%
Prince George’s Total 24,383 24,383 69% 69% 77% 71%
Maryland Total 39,484 39,484 72% 73% 79% 74%

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Deanwood 194 194 51% 49% 54% 49%
Minnesota Ave. 333 333 116% 106% 101% 103%
Rhode Island Ave 221 221 98% 101% 106% 102%
Fort Totten 408 408 107% 110% 115% 100%
Anacostia Garage 808 808 40% 45% 50% 45%
District of Columbia Total 1,964 1,964 74% 76% 79% 73%

NORTHERN VIRGINIA

Huntington 3,617 3,617 73% 71% 76% 73%
West Falls Church 2,009 2,009 62% 66% 104% 95%
Dunn Loring 1,326 1,326 85% 85% 106% 92%
Vienna 5,169 5,169 89% 89% 104% 97%
Franconia 5,069 5,069 74% 71% 77% 72%
Van Dorn St 361 361 103% 107% 114% 108%
East Falls Church 422 422 120% 117% 126% 120%
Wiehle-Reston East 2,300 100% 82%
Northern VA Total 20,273 17,973 81% 79% 91% 85%
 
System Total 61,721 59,421 75% 75% 83% 77%

Some lots show a utilization over 100%. That’s because if someone parks in a station, then leaves, and another person pays to park in that same space, it counts as two people. For a lot that’s totally full and has some turnover, the utilization can go over 100%.

Ly said that in the parking industry, an occupancy level of 90% is considered “full.” Or to put it in terms that relate to riders, if a station is reliably over 90% filled, it’s risky to try to park there unless you arrive early. Much lower, and there’s a lot of space going unused, which is wasteful.

At stations that fill up, Metro and the area governments could look into ways to help more people reach the station other than by driving. At stations that don’t, perhaps those are top spots to consider transit-oriented development on the parking lot, and where the developer doesn’t need to rebuild as many spaces as there are today.

Metro is organizing a series of movie nights at Metro station parking lots, partly to engage with surrounding communities but also to bring attention to generally underused parking lots. Upcoming movie nights will be August 8 at West Falls Church, which Ly said “saw a drop-off in parking once the Silver Line opened,” and August 22 at Twinbrook, both at 6:30 pm. Ly also said Metro will launch a campaign this fall to communicate where there is parking space in the Metro system.

Tagged: metro, parking, wmata

David Alpert is Founder and President of Greater Greater Washington and Executive Director of DC Surface Transit. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. Unless otherwise noted, opinions in his GGWash posts are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.