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 CapacityPaid Utilization
Station/RegionJune 2015June 2014June 2015FY 2015 YTDJune 2014FY 2014 YTD

White Flint1,2701,27057%62%56%53%
Shady Grove5,7455,74591%85%91%86%
Forest Glen596596102%96%102%95%
Montgomery Total15,10115,10183%79%83%78%

New Carrollton3,5193,51991%81%90%84%
Addison Road1,2681,26851%50%51%48%
Capitol Heights37237289%80%89%80%
College Park1,8201,82066%55%66%57%
P.G. Plaza1,0681,06846%46%46%44%
West Hyattsville45345395%84%95%86%
Southern Avenue1,9801,98061%52%61%58%
Naylor Road368368107%98%107%100%
Suitland Garage1,8901,89067%61%67%60%
Branch Avenue3,0723,072103%94%102%94%
Morgan Blvd.60860889%88%89%84%
Prince George’s Total24,38324,38369%69%77%71%
Maryland Total39,48439,48472%73%79%74%

Minnesota Ave.333333116%106%101%103%
Rhode Island Ave22122198%101%106%102%
Fort Totten408408107%110%115%100%
Anacostia Garage80880840%45%50%45%
District of Columbia Total1,9641,96474%76%79%73%

West Falls Church2,0092,00962%66%104%95%
Dunn Loring1,3261,32685%85%106%92%
Van Dorn St361361103%107%114%108%
East Falls Church422422120%117%126%120%
Wiehle-Reston East2,300100%82%
Northern VA Total20,27317,97381%79%91%85%
System Total61,72159,42175%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 here are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.