Monday, November 2, 2009

Pentagon Gouge: Infrequent Parking

When you work in or around the Pentagon, they give you a choice. You can either have:

Option A) A Pentagon Parking Permit


Option B) The National Capital Region Mass Transit subsidy

If you ask me, I think mass transit is THE way to go in the DC area.

However (comma) there will periodically come a time when you will need to drive in to work. When that happens, where do you park?

Around the Crystal City, your options are metered spots on the street or underground parking in the garages. The garage under my building costs an arm, a leg, and my first-born child. Okay, it's not THAT bad. It's like $17 for the day. That's still pretty darn high if you ask me. I prefer to find a metered spot on the street.

There are two types of parking meters around Crystal City: BLUE and GREEN. The BLUE metered spots cost $1 per hour and are limited to 2 hours. The GREEN metered spots cost $0.75 per hour and are limited to 10 hours, so I always seek out the GREEN metered spots because they're cheaper and last longer without having to run out in the rain or snow to put more money in the meter.

Actually, reading the Arlington website description of the parking meters linked above, I learned that it's actually illegal to run out and put more money in the meter. They say it's illegal to park there for longer than the time limit of the meter.

Lately (summer 2009) they have been replacing the coin-operated parking meters with new high-tech Pay-and-Display machines in which you can use a credit card or cash. The new machines spit out a slip of paper that you then display on your dash board, but I think the blue and green color coding of the parking spots (that used to be blue or green parking meters) has remained the same.

Anyway, that was sort of a long tangent and not actually the reason why I started to write this post. I actually learned something new that I thought was worth posting here in the Pentagon Gouge.

You can park in Pentagon parking and keep your mass transit subsidy. The mass transit benefit website says you are allowed to do this up to 5 days per month. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to be in some admiral's office at 0600, so you have to leave home long before your normal bus service starts, then it might be useful to just park in the Pentagon parking lot and get to your meeting with the admiral on time.

IF you need to do this, then you should park in the Hayes Lot. The Hayes Lot is across the street from the Pentagon City Mall, along Army-Navy Drive and Hayes Street, and there is a pedestrian tunnel from the Hayes Lot under I-395 over to Pentagon South Parking. After you get into the Pentagon, you just need to stop by the Pentagon Parking office at 2D1039 (inside the Pentagon Metro entrance, up the escalators, off on the right in the D-ring before corridor 10). There are computer terminals there where you enter your car's license plate and the fact that you parked in the lot for the day. This will prevent you from getting ticketed or booted.

Recap: If you receive the Mass Transit Subsidy, but infrequently have to drive to work, then your options are (listed in order of preference):
1. Park in Pentagon Parking (Hayes Lot) and sign in at the computer in the Pentagon Parking office in 2D1039.
2. Park in a GREEN metered spot around Crystal City. Either bring a bunch of quarters if you find one of the older spots, or find the new Pay-and-Display machines that take credit cards.
3. Park in a parking garage (and go ahead and fill out that home equity loan application).


Anonymous said...

I was in Perth, Australia ealier this year. They have the pay-and-display parking meters. You can either use a credit card, or coin.

The credit card slot is deeply recessed and hard to use unless you have long fingers and/or are a contortionist. If you go the coin route, at $2.70AU per hour, you better make sure you have a 5 lb. bag of change before you park, with plenty of $1 and $2 coins. I quickly learned to save any coinage I received from a purchase

You get to your parking spot and start feeding in the coins, and the time to park correspondingly increases. If you happen to be parking overnight, after the parking pay time period, you invariably pay for parking you won't use the next day. I figure in 11 weeks there, I must have overpaid more than $30 in parking fees. If there was no parking near my hotel, I used the valet parking service for $20. That's ok, though. The company pays the bill.

SandyCarlson said...

Gosh, the cost of parking in DC is ridiculous. That's quite a lot to shell out for the privilege of going to work.

ellen abbott said...

I'll keep it in mind if I ever find myself working for the Pentagon.

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