Greater Greater Washington

It's fine to not build parking at Tysons Metro stations

Despite years of planning to transform Tysons Corner from a car-oriented edge city into a walkable downtown, some Northern Virginia residents are surprised to learn that Tysons' 4 Metro stations will not be surrounded by parking lots.


Development planned at the Spring Hill Metro station. Image from Fairfax County.

The confusion seems to stem from a mix-up about what Metro stations in Tysons Corner are supposed to accomplish. Are they places for DC-bound commuters to board, or are they the destination stations for people working in Tysons? There will surely be some of both, but most users will be the latter, and they're who the line must be designed to best serve.

If stations are surrounded by parking that will reduce the number of buildings within walking distance of Metro. Not only that, it would also make the walk less interesting and more dangerous, since walking through a busy parking lot is hardly a pleasant experience. That in turn would reduce the number of people who could use Metro to commute to Tysons. That would undermine the entire project.

The main purpose of the Silver Line project is to transform Tysons Corner. Tysons is a behemoth, with about the same amount of office space as downtown Baltimore. It can't grow or continue to prosper as a car-oriented place. Nor would it make sense to invest almost $7 billion in a new Metrorail line if it were not going to support a more urban Tysons, or serve easy commuting into Tysons.

Consider other walkable downtown areas, like downtown DC or Rosslyn. Would it make sense if Gallery Place Metro station were surrounded by parking instead of buildings? Of course it would not. Tysons will one day be the same. It may not look like that yet, but it never will if its best land is used for parking lots.

Yes, it's true there should be enough parking along the Dulles Corridor for commuters into DC to use the system. That's why there are large parking lots at the Wiehle Avenue and West Falls Church stations. There's no need for drivers to enter congested Tysons Corner to find parking, when more highway-oriented stations exist specifically for that purpose.

Alternatively, those few drivers who do want to park in Tysons will surely be able to do the same thing they do in Ballston, DC, Bethesda, or anywhere else: Pay to park in a nearby garage, and walk a couple of blocks. As more new buildings are built near Metro stations, there will be more available private garages to pick from.

There may be some small number of people currently living in Tysons who refuse to walk to stations, and will have to drive out of Tysons to find parking. That's unfortunate, but accommodating them with parking lots at urban stations would make those stations less convenient for the larger number of walkers, and future walkers.

Temporary parking isn't a panacea

Some suggest that since it may be a few years before all the land near Metro stations is developed, it could be used as interim parking on a temporary basis. In fact, that's exactly the plan at the McLean station, where 700 parking spaces will be available at first.

That could be a workable idea in a few places, especially at McLean, which is the easternmost of Tysons' 4 stations. But it's less practical than some may assume, because most of the land surrounding these stations isn't currently empty.

For example, Greensboro station is surrounded by strip malls. They will eventually be redeveloped into high-rises, but in the meantime the property owners make more money with retail there than they would with just parking.

In places where Fairfax County or WMATA can strike deals with landowners to let Metro riders use existing parking lots, that's fine. But it does not make sense to tear down functional money-making buildings and replace them with temporary parking lots. Especially when there are better parking options elsewhere for drivers hoping to park and ride.

The bottom line is that Tysons Metro stations were planned correctly. Some interim measures are OK if they're practical, but surrounding Tysons Metro stations with parking would undermine the entire reason for running the Silver Line through Tysons in the first place.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

Dan Malouff is a professional transportation planner for the Arlington County Department of Transportation. He has a degree in Urban Planning from the University of Colorado, and lives a car-free lifestyle in Northwest Washington. His posts are his own opinions and do not represent the views of his employer in any way. He runs the blog BeyondDC and also contributes to the Washington Post Local Opinions blog. 

Comments

Add a comment »

I'd point out for those of us Tysons residents that aren't in walking distance, there has been a multi-million dollar upgrade planned for day 1 of silver line that will run 5 minute headways to the stations from basically any part of Tysons as well as 10 minute headways for surrounding McLean and Vienna (depending on the neighborhood).

The bus network in and around Tysons will be more robust than any other part of Fairfax on day 1, making it that much easier to use the silver line without need of parking (and it will be quicker than driving/parking for most)

by Navid Roshan on Dec 3, 2013 12:03 pm • linkreport

Developers have earned the best way to roll out a TND is to build a bit of the urbanism first and then let the rest fill out as the market dictates. In Tyson's Corner, considering what a cultural shift this whole plan represents, I think while temporary parking lots is a dumb way to start the turn around, as long as there are plans for future development that accomodate the infilling, then not too much harm done. In Kentlands, the original mall was designed with all the parking of a suburban model except that all the infrastrucutre was fun in the driving lanes with the anticipation that infill wouldn't have to deal with utility recolation and the like. Hopefully they've thought all this through here. Now if we could move beyone the 1960's skyline they are proposing, it might actually become a memorable place to be.

by Thayer-D on Dec 3, 2013 12:04 pm • linkreport

Sorry that should say bus (I need an EDIT button)

by Navid Roshan on Dec 3, 2013 12:04 pm • linkreport

Can we discuss pricing? IIUC all WMATA garages in NoVa now charge $4.75 for parking all day. Some in Md charge as much as $5.00 Given the value of the properties, and the negative externalities of bringing more cars into Tysons, and the demographics of the market niche that wants to drive to Tysons metro stations, I think $4.75 or even five bucks is unreasonably low. Is there any way to charge something higher than that? And to use that to help fund alternatives to driving, and also hopefully to reduce the incentive people will otherwise have to fight to preserve this allegedly "interim" solution?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 3, 2013 12:06 pm • linkreport

The bottom line is that Tysons Metro stations were planned correctly. Some interim measures are OK if they're practical, but surrounding Tysons Metro stations with parking would undermine the entire reason for running the Silver Line through Tysons in the first place.

Exactly. Besides we already have successful examples of doing it this way in the region. R-B in Arlington was way less of a mixed-use/high density place at the time than Tysons is currently.

The Post messed up this whole issue with its framing. Since Tyson's is in Va. then apparently metro must have parking because its a station in the suburbs. Ignore all the planning and reasons why that's not optimal here and just interview people who are either completely unaware of what's been happening in their own towns or are trying to misrepresent what planners chose to do.

And all of this forgets the fact that there is currently LOTS of parking around Tysons corner. Why should Metro or Fairfax build more?

by drumz on Dec 3, 2013 12:12 pm • linkreport

A wolftrap station and an parking garage at wolftrap(on top of the existing surface lot) make a lot of sense.

by Richard on Dec 3, 2013 12:19 pm • linkreport

A wolftrap station and an parking garage at wolftrap(on top of the existing surface lot) make a lot of sense.

Until you start realizing how much it would cost to build.

by Alex B. on Dec 3, 2013 12:22 pm • linkreport

Wolf trap is a wonderful faciility but probably an awful commuter lot option. You either deal with a narrow/twisty two lane road or get there via the DTR. You're better off stick with WFC or Reston if you're going to pay the toll and parking/train fare.

by drumz on Dec 3, 2013 12:32 pm • linkreport

I agree about wolftrap but there is no where to put it. I spent about 20 minutes a month ago trying to site a facility, it just wouldnt work unless they took over an entire existing parking area and some of the green space.

by BTA on Dec 3, 2013 12:34 pm • linkreport

Richard has somewhat of a point, I think. I'm not super familiar with this area, but it's a looong way from the Tysons stations to Wiehle. Looks like about 6 miles, which looks longer than the stretch between any other two stations in the Metro system (Van Dorn->Franconia and College Park->Greenbelt approach about 5 miles).

Other than Wolf Trap, I'm not sure if there's much reason to have an intermediate station, though. You maybe could use the surface parking at Wolf Trap, except it'd be a mess on concert days.

by Gavin on Dec 3, 2013 12:34 pm • linkreport

interesting. I have a different take which I intend to write up. It's all about transitions and phases. But they don't have to build parking as much as create a system of parking wayfinding, shared parking, and service integration.

The point is to assist people in making the transition, not telling them that they have to do it "our way." (I will admit it's taken me awhile to get to that position, to be more empathetic.)

But that would be expensive too and requires a lot of work, but it's an extension of the point I make that cities and districts need "parking planners", integrated parking plans, and transportation management districts to ensure that such planning is done and implemented.

The Tysons Corner plan calls for the creation of a TMA. I don't know if it's been created yet.

http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/tysons/comprehensiveplan/transportation-trans-management.htm

Probably not.

cf. http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052748704336504576258740640080926

by Richard Layman on Dec 3, 2013 12:35 pm • linkreport

Oh yeah and as drumz said there would need to be major road upgrades raising the ire of locals im sure.

by BTA on Dec 3, 2013 12:37 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity
I agree it is pretty low for some areas in MD and Tysons. On the other hand it seems kind of high in Today's Greenbelt and Largo. $4.50 for a surface lot at a terminus surrounded by a lot of nothing is a little steep. I think they should be $3.50 like Minnesota Ave while the garages should probably start at 5.00 or 5.50.

by Richard on Dec 3, 2013 12:38 pm • linkreport

Oh, I agree that the steps that Fairfax Connector is taking to integrate surface transit with the new Metrorail stations is very good, and similar to what RideOn did in the 1980s.

It's necessary.

But it's also necessary to do serious social and traditional marketing to assist people in changing their behavior.

The number of people "like us" who are driven by information and logic and make requisite behavior changes on that basis is small.

Also see http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052748704314904575250352409843386

I took that article to heart in proposing programming as part of the Western Baltimore County Pedestrian and Bicycle Access Plan.

by Richard Layman on Dec 3, 2013 12:38 pm • linkreport

You would need to create a new DTR ramp specifically for that if you want people parking before Tysons. Add that with the garage itself (even a measily one serving 1000 people) and you end up with over $300 million in cost end of the day.

Is that really worth it, to serve 1000 people, who could otherwise continue to drive to Tysons if they really want to (with less traffic now) or to use a bus/multiple trail options?

No one is going to drive into the worst congested part of NOVA in order to park, in order to ride a train, into DC.

Thats not what it is for. Tysons is the destination, it is the job center. Having parking for metro in Tysons is stupid and shows the ignorance of reporters/public when discussing transportation issues.

by Navid Roshan on Dec 3, 2013 12:39 pm • linkreport

Exactly. Besides we already have successful examples of doing it this way in the region. R-B in Arlington was way less of a mixed-use/high density place at the time than Tysons is currently.

Yes, but because of R-B's pre-WW2 bones, its urban design was far more able to accept new urban development than auto-centric Tysons. This will make a successful transformation of Tysons into a vibrant urban place many times more challenging than R-B. Walk/bike access to the stations in particular will be a huge challenge in the near-medium term.

by Jonathan P on Dec 3, 2013 12:39 pm • linkreport

AWalkerintheCity yes, let's discuss how much sense raising parking prices is for those who use the (in)famous Red Line service, which even if you tolerate daily, ends weeknights too early to be a way around the town's nightlife. No offense, but that you even suggested that suggests you're out of touch or living in an ivory tower.

by asffa on Dec 3, 2013 12:40 pm • linkreport

@Richard Layman, if the TMA refers to the transportation advisory board (might be called something different now) then yes it does exist, and meets, infact I wrote a story on it earlier this month.

The point isn't to make people change. This is a new tool in the transportation for north county. If people dont want to use it, well the DTR and Route 7 will have lost 15000 to 20000 cars when it begins operations. you are welcome, the commute just got better. And guess what, if you work in Tysons, the parking for your office will still exist, this plans doesnt remvoe a single space, it actually adds thousands more.

And if you dont work in Tysons, then your ride in, as I said, got a lot smoother by removing cars from the road.

The obsessions people have with parking, and yet they whine when the Silver Line costs so much. ITS THE PARKING! 1 billion of the cost is directly attributable to phase 2 parking. Want it cheaper? Learn how to do with less parking.

Yeesh

by Navid Roshan on Dec 3, 2013 12:42 pm • linkreport

So if it's 6 miles from Tysons to Reston Wiehle via the DTR, that's about 6 minutes driving over there (plus how long it takes you to get to the exit). That extra time driving seems reasonable if one is adamant about parking at metro.

by drumz on Dec 3, 2013 12:43 pm • linkreport

wrt the point about WMATA parking pricing, I suggested variable rates to Nat Bottengheimer once, and was gonna write a blog entry about it, but he requested that I not do so. Obviously, market rates make sense, but I think they'd have a hard time getting a majority of jurisdictions to agree.

by Richard Layman on Dec 3, 2013 12:44 pm • linkreport

Jonathon P,

True but the example paired with the fact that there is a lot of existing parking already in Tysons is a good indicator that the Silver Line's success or Failure won't come from a decision to build commuter garages. It'll come from the county's ability to stick to the rest of the Tyson's plan.

by drumz on Dec 3, 2013 12:44 pm • linkreport

Jonathan P

Which offices are you specifically worried will be hard to get to? I hear this complaint alot. I know the geography of Tysons better than just about anyone (Tom B. aside) and I still dont see which office people are worried they will have trouble walking to; unless it is those that are on the south side of Route 123 on Route 7 (which are not close enough to walk to metro anyways).

If you work at capital one (thousands of workers) you have a very nice walk to work

If you work at Mitre (thousands of workers) you have a very nice walk to work

If you work at Northrup (hundreds of workers) you have a very nice walk to work

If you work at SAIC/Booz/Monster (thousands) you have a very nice walk to work

I dont see it, are there improvements needed? Yes. Will it be unusable on day 1? Not at all, and I'd suggest you go check it out for yourself if you don't believe me.

by Navid Roshan on Dec 3, 2013 12:46 pm • linkreport

@Drumz agree with everything you are saying, and people from Tysons aren't the ones really being discussed; its really people who live in northern Vienna, so for them it would be that much closer.

The failure in Tysons won't be from lack of parking, it will be from the board kowtowing to people who dont know what they are talking about demanding more parking in a city that already has 8 times more parking than it has residents.

by Navid Roshan on Dec 3, 2013 12:49 pm • linkreport

Navid -- that isn't a TMA, but a step forward. The point is that if you want maximum value from the system, the greatest success, you have to build the ability to realize it.

You don't care about my thinking about this, but it has really been shaped by trails. For a long time, I was a zealot for riding on streets, and not having dedicated trails. Then I rode on a trail and realized how much of my mental energy spent cycling was spent riding defensively, and how it's so much better not having to do that on a trail.

BASICALLY, the point I realized was that as a planner, it isn't my job to build my biases into a plan, it's to ensure the best possible results, by reaching greatest breadth of demographics by the development of systematic plans and programs, etc.

You don't just wave a wand and make Fairfax County a sustainable transportation mecca.

cf. http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/dot-transit/commuter/tmd/index.html

http://www.fastpotomacyard.com/

and of course the various ArCo programs.

by Richard Layman on Dec 3, 2013 12:49 pm • linkreport

again, the point isn't building parking per se, but coordinating its availability.

by Richard Layman on Dec 3, 2013 12:51 pm • linkreport

@Richard Layman; I don't disagree with you. People shouldn't design based on ideology. As a civil engineer who worked in land development I know that cookie cutter solutions are the problem. But in this case, the planners are doing a good job of setting up temporary parking where it makes sense (despite my worries that temporary will become permanent); while providing permanent infrastructure like buses, new trails, new walkways, and the largest parking garages built on Metro along the silver line.

The silver line when complete will have more parking than any other system, and yet the complaining still comes that its not enough. Putting that parking in garages in Tysons makes it that much harder to develop next to the stations, and that much more difficult for the market to bear the cost of transforming office parks into mixed use developments.

There is a market solution to this, we don't need to build more lots. Negotiate for another temporary lot at Cherner, keep the temporary at McLean station, and then provide zoning acceptance for private built/function parking to be retrofitted into existing buildings.

You will find equilibrium in demand/supply better that way than to build mega garages in the center of the most congested regions of the county. Again. Even if they existed, after about 1 week you find that they would be underused because no one in their right mind would drive into Tysons in order to take a train when they could drive closer to their own houses (one stop out) or take a bus to do so.

by Navid Roshan on Dec 3, 2013 12:55 pm • linkreport

Which reminds me how WMATA keeps building more stuff in VA (not saying they shouldn't) when older parts of system desperately need repair - which should be done first. Some of these breakdowns cause hazardous situations for passengers.
Where are their priorities.

by asffa on Dec 3, 2013 12:59 pm • linkreport

@asffa - WMATA didnt build it, Virginia did with its own money

by Navid Roshan on Dec 3, 2013 1:00 pm • linkreport

I think that the point that the Post article missed, and to some extent is missed here, at least in the headline, is that the issue is providing parking (to assist transitions in people's mobility behavior) not necessarily the "need" to build structures or lots, especially on WMATA's dime.

As you know better than I, especially in a place like Fairfax, getting people to think that sustainable mobility is a real option challenges everything they've been brought up to believe. And that's in a region that is familiar with heavy rail transit!

As you (and Dan) know, people will change over time.

Not unlike how DC didn't come crashing to a halt because of the 5 cent bag tax. To its credit, while the WSJ ran at least one article foreseeing doom, they also ran an article some months later that said that things were fine, people and businesses adjusted, and more people were using reusable bags.

My point is that with purposive planning and programming, we can help them change faster and with less cost to the public sector.

by Richard Layman on Dec 3, 2013 1:05 pm • linkreport

Richard (not layman) and assfa

this post is not about the red line, and its not about Maryland.

Its about NoVa. Right now the Vienna, Dun Loring, and WFC garages all fill up by 8AM. evidently some people think metro is a bargain, even with $4.75 to park. If you were running this as a business you would definitely consider raising prices.

Land in Tysons is even more valuable than at the Orange line locations mentioned above, congestion and ped unfriendliness are bigger problems. And whereas parking at Vienna and DL at least, is considered permanent, in Tysons its claimed it will be a temporary solution. I think that justifies a higher price.

From central Mclean to Tysons and back by cab is about 20 bucks. I would charge $15 to park all day to start. If the garage sits mostly empty at that price, it could be lowered.

Given the politics, it will be much easier to lower a price thats too hight, than to raise one thats too low.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 3, 2013 1:07 pm • linkreport

But this isn't a greenfield Richard; this is developed land with 112000 parking spaces.

112000

Commuters and offices are not going to have a lack of parking. If they want to drive in, all of the existing offices will still have parking waiting for them. Even the new offices have more parking than Arlington and DC permit. Parking is not going anywhere.

It is a perception, and that perception is fueled by stories like that run by the washington post which acts as if there will be a shortage of parking when there is still to date an over abundance.

No one is asking anyone to change patterns on day 1, but by adding more parking, you induce and subsidize one habit over another. Why make it worse? People who want to drive, still can, those who want development near metro still get it.

Its win win

by Navid Roshan on Dec 3, 2013 1:08 pm • linkreport

richard layman

if i was telling someone they had to ride a bus, or had to bike a mile or two, that would be imposing my way on them. But the alternative for the people in Mclean (and they are the ones complaining the loudest) is to drive to west falls church metro. Which is presumably what they do NOW when they want to park at a metro station. Building the silver line stations without parking does not make them any worse off, in terms of their commute. It takes away no options they already had.

What this is about is that there is something new and nice, and if there is no parking there, then drivers can't use it. There is an emotional reaction to that - plus there is the fact that if you can pressure the BOS to provide parking, you get something useful you did not have before.

I am a political realist. The 700 spot garage will certainly happen. Possibly another garage will.

But its important to ensure they do the least damage to the new Tysons - both in terms of design and location, in terms of the sheer quantities of autos drawn in, and in terms of establishing permanence, by reinforcing habits and by creating a political interest that will be hard to change.

Why is parking $4.75 at Dunn Loring? When its filled every weekday at 8 AM, and the land is prime for high density mixed use, and a costly garage had to be built to keep providing that parking? Because it already existed, and to increase the price even close to what the spots should cost, would elicit a powerful political pushback by people who now consider themselves to have a property right in relatively inexpensive parking at metro.

Mark my words, if these spots are priced at $4.75 the county will never be able to get rid of them.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 3, 2013 1:17 pm • linkreport

@AWITC, just a correction, the 700 space lot is almost done (I go by it every day) and its a surface lot. Its about 2 weeks away from paving by my estimate.

by Navid Roshan on Dec 3, 2013 1:18 pm • linkreport

and richard, in terms of your usual (but almost always very apt) concerns about process and programming, I note the following.

1. Key Tysons bike improvements are not yet even under construction - note the Vesper Trail for example. Despite the time that the SL was in process, the county is still playing catch up on access.

2. The Fairfax bike master plan, which will lay out routes and plans for infra OUTSIDE Tysons (some of which will feed Tysons), was completed months ago, but has yet to be approved. The current time line for approval is some time in mid 2014.

3. There are currently no funded projects to provide bike access to the SL phase 2 stations. So far there has only been a limited amount of planning done, AFAICT

4. FCDOT though it has a bike coordinator (a Civil engineer who mostly works on infra issues) does not have a program to encourage and educate biking, similar to bikeArlington.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 3, 2013 1:22 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity
@Navid Roshan

Not sure where you guys got the idea that I want to build parking in Tysons or charge $5 for parking for it. Go rail against someone else.

I pointed out that the parking rates Metro charges don't vary very much, I think they should vary more with cost and demand. Greenbelt Metro has a ton of spaces and rarely fills. It should be cheaper. If Vienna fills charge more for it. They shouldn't put parking in Tysons if they are trying to create an urban place. (It might be nice to have a very small lot somewhere that charges $10+ but I dont think it is necessary).

by Richard on Dec 3, 2013 1:25 pm • linkreport

"Not sure where you guys got the idea that I want to build parking in Tysons or charge $5 for parking for it. "

Er because you responded to my post about Tysons by discussing Largo ;) ?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 3, 2013 1:30 pm • linkreport

Navid

theres so much UC there, its hard for me to keep track of it all. Its almost like Id need a whole website devoted to keeping track of development in Tysons.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 3, 2013 1:31 pm • linkreport

@Wolftrap

First I am assuming that a metro station at wolftrap makes some sense. It's a nice concert venue and it should be more accessible by mass transit.

Secondly, I am not thinking a new DTR interchange is necessary for the metro station. If you are coming on the DTR and want to take metro, get off at Weihe. This would be for the car depended cul-de-sac folks who live north and south of the DTR between Tysons and Weihe. The could drive, bike or bus to the station on Trap road.

Thirdly, there are several lots there, they could be built into garages if there is demand.

In summary: Wolftrap is a nice resource the greater washington community has. Adding a metro station would enhance it. Adding a node between Weihe and Tysons would be good for the community. A place for people to bike to. A place for bus routes to pass through. It need not be a huge 5000 space parking lot, but it already has 1000 some odd spaces that go unused most days, a station there could leverage those for the community.

by Richard on Dec 3, 2013 1:37 pm • linkreport

IIUC when the SL was in planning, NPS was asked if they wanted to fund a Wolftrap metro stop, and they said no.

It would cost a couple of hundred million. to serve a lightly populated area. Does 1000 spaces provide enough ridership to justify the capital cost, operating cost, and delay cost, of the additional station? Plus, having exited those lots after a concert, what does that level of usage (assuming no additional road infra) do to local roads, to impact on the park, etc.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 3, 2013 1:41 pm • linkreport

@AWITC :P - I'm glad this week we have something we aren't arguing with each other about

by Navid Roshan on Dec 3, 2013 1:43 pm • linkreport

@Richard; Wolf Trap has transit access. I use it a lot; there is a bus that is specifically used for Wolf Trap on concert nights. That service will remain and actually run more frequently now with the Silver Line.

I dont think putting a metro station specifically to serve it would have been a very financially wise thing to do. There are a lot of needs in our area, and I cant see that spending 300million (I think it would be closer to 500 million because you are talking about a U Branch taht would come away from the DTR through several neighborhoods and Pot Yard is estimated at 500 already).

I don't see it, the demand on it is simply not enough and other better options are already available

by Navid Roshan on Dec 3, 2013 1:46 pm • linkreport

AWITC thanks for contributing content to the post I will try to write tomorrow. And note that for a number of years I was the only person in DC substantively criticizing the plans to build lots of parking at DCUSA... while my thinking about these kinds of issues has changed on the margins, we aren't arguing really.

I am only talking about having creating integrated parking wayfinding and information systems, a TMA + funding for the stuff that you mention (bike improvements etc.) IN ADVANCE OF AND SIMULTANEOUSLY with the creation of the Metrorail line.

It's great that Fairfax Connector is doing this wrt surface transit. (FWIW, some of my earliest blog writings, in 3/2005 are about Fairfax, transit planning, VRE, and complementary surface transit improvements).

It's just that it's not enough. But this is an issue with transit marketing and development more generally that is not unique to Fairfax.

And because this is a systemic issue with implications beyond Fairfax, which is why it is interesting to me and worth my writing about.

The best thing about this entry is the discussion and its making me realize that I can take the argument even further than I originally intended.

by Richard Layman on Dec 3, 2013 1:54 pm • linkreport

AWITC -- stuff like this, http://www.tcsintl.com/industries/states-municipalities/, and it's no different than my writings about he DC Convention Center and complaints about "trickle down" approaches to adjacent revitalization. Instead of trickle down, they should have invested some of the money in the CC, at least $15-$30MM, in accelerating improvement on the 7th and 9th St. corridors, and getting the Convention Center hotel in place, etc. BEFORE the #$%^&*( thing opened, not 10 or more years later.

So a lot of potential improvement remained fallow and it didn't need to.

While Tysons and Metrorail is nowhere near the same point as some of those sad blocks on 9th Street, the general point pertains.

by Richard Layman on Dec 3, 2013 1:58 pm • linkreport

@Richard Layman, sorry I'm still a bit confused on TMA. Do you mean electronic signage like on 66 on roads, or electronic signalling for open parking, or non-electronic way finding.

In the case of traffic mitigation signage, 66 is experimenting with it; if it works then it will likely become popular in NOVA. For parking electronic signalling; a lot of the parking garages in Tysons are specific to individual land owners and their office employees. They know which employees have a fob and which don't; and some probably even have assigned spaces.

For the malls, some of the levels of Tysons already have a primitive form, my guess it was done as an experiment. Whether those take off or not I have no idea, though the mall will likely discourage commuter parking.

As far as non-electronic signage, there is significant work going in and around Tysons but of course a lot more can be done.

One thing I think everyone can agree on is that the marketing for the Silver Line, the bus changes, and transpo improvements (and the basic goal of the concept) has been piss poor. The fact that FCDOT/FFX Connector is waiting until nearly new years to release a map of what the system will look like is hindering people figuring out their choices. That needs to be fixed before Silver Line starts, and asap.

by Navid Roshan on Dec 3, 2013 1:59 pm • linkreport

@RL - sorry read the link after I posted. I understand now. Yes I have seen this in many French cities with low parking as well; it is extremely useful I agree!

One issue though is that right now, Tysons really doesnt need it. People today are going to their offices, or to the mall. When the city becomes (ya know) more of a city I completely agree that systems like this will make for more efficient use of parking so that some garages won't remain empty while others are packed.

by Navid Roshan on Dec 3, 2013 2:11 pm • linkreport

Here we go again. During the Fairfax County meetings on Tysons and the Silver Line, one of the many common messages from attendees was they wanted parking ramps at the Tysons stations similar to WFC. The County replied they would not likely provide such parking because the four stations are intended to be urban in nature. There aren't WFC-style parking ramps in Downtown D.C. Long-run, there should not be similar ramps in Tysons. And there will not be.

The discussion later turned to temporary or interim parking, i.e., lots near the stations that could be used to for commuter parking on otherwise vacant property until the landowner was ready to develop the parcel. At which time, the specific lot would be closed. This is quite similar to what occurred in Arlington. My wife and I parked at Virginia Square for several years in a lot right at the station. When the landowner decided to develop the parcel, the lot was closed. We found another solution.

Several of the Supervisors, led by John Foust, supported this proposal for interim parking. On the very same night the Comp Plan was approved by the BoS, the Supervisors also approved 20 add-on resolutions, including resolution 14, which I quoted verbatim on an other posting. The essence of the resolution, which is now part of the Comp Plan, is the staff is directed to find interim parking sites at Tysons that can be used until development occurs or the lot is otherwise inconsistent with development (say for example, it is needed for one of the street grids).

Supervisor Foust has personally worked to find possible locations. He has also pushed the staff hard. Some landowners are interested; some are not. One of the landowners had reason to tear down some buildings near the McLean station, but does not intend to build for some time. In view of the desire for interim parking and to get additional revenue for the property, the landowner is building a parking lot. Neither Fairfax County nor WMATA is building anything or paying for anything. No garage will be built by WMATA or Fairfax County.

Over time, more lots may be built. Aaron Georgelas told me he is looking into the feasibility of one or more lots on his company's land on parcels that will not be developed for some time. He is not likely alone. I also heard a couple of landowners say that it might be feasible for a landowner to build and depreciate a parking ramp on property that will not be developed for years, but which might not be as profitable as a ramp right now. I am not aware that any landowner has proposed building a ramp to the county. I don't know whether any more lots or even a ramp will be built.

Interim parking is not intended to displace transit, bike paths, sidewalks or trails. It is not intended to be permanent. It is simply intended to make the Silver Line more accessible in early years; respond to the request of many people in the north part of Fairfax County; and provide additional revenue to landowners on otherwise vacant property. No one is making any landowner open a parking lot. Foust and county staff realize some may want to do so and others may not.

Parking prices. A couple years ago, I had a discussion with multiple Tysons landowners in which I suggested a county parking tax to fund more transit. There was strong opposition to the tax because they were concerned about Tysons' competitiveness with commercial areas with free parking. They acknowledged the need for aggressive TDM, but also felt it was better to have people in Tysons than elsewhere. With the likely growth in retail, I suspect the landowners would prefer people to drive to Tysons than not to come, most especially in the early years. I think they would not want to charge $15 for parking. I've spent several years talking with Tysons landowners on regular basis and believe I have fairly good understanding of their overall business plan for Tysons. I am not claiming I know everything or have not misinterpreted anything they've told me.

by tmt on Dec 3, 2013 2:17 pm • linkreport

Surely there's nothing to talk about here- we simply let adjacent landowners develop their land as they see fit. Maybe they will want to add multi-story parking structures, maybe they will add mixed-use development. Do we really want some kind of five-year-plan about how the development will go?

by renegade09 on Dec 3, 2013 2:28 pm • linkreport

@TMT

No one is arguing against that. The McLean parking lot you speak of is under construction... it is going to happen, its 700 spaces; not sure where you got the other info from. The argument from people who want more parking is that the county has made a big mistake by not building 4 massive garages... to which point I think many on this board disagree and understand to do so would be 1) way to expensive 2) only cause more traffic problems.

As far as retailers being afraid; its called validated parking. Its worked for society for nearly a century now. It will continue to work to ensure people who shop don't pay for parking, but commuters who don't do pay for parking.

As far as $15, I doubt AWITC meant that it had to be 15 or nothing; his point is (IIUC) that the market should be allowed to charge what it is worth for people to park at a location and to stop subsidizing parking otherwise via tax payers who don't use that parking. (If I read too much into AWITC comments then I apologize).

by Navid Roshan on Dec 3, 2013 2:29 pm • linkreport

Sadly, @Richard Layman's ideas about wayfaring etc. has been seized upon by the AAA and NIMBYs as a reason for there to be more parking. They say the problem is not the cars per se, but the fact that cars can't figure out where to park. And while of course it makes sense to say that, the NIMBYs then go on to say that we need more parking if only people knew where it was.

Of course, AAA and the NIMBYs don't want to pay for the parking in private lots themselves, they want someone else to pay for it so the street parking is freed up for them.

by fongfong on Dec 3, 2013 2:31 pm • linkreport

@Renegade the developers I've spoken to have no interest in doing that, parking is 1 step up from agro land in terms of profitability. In some cases, with the larger land owners, they are ok with using temporary space during phasing to allow for parking but none of them would give up max-build out potential in order to put in surface or even garage parking for the public. Its a money loser.

What is more likely is that some of the existing buildings, 15 to 20 years from now, will take their excess parking and sell those spaces (similar to what has occurred in parts of Rosslyn).

I think it's a moot point because no one is necessarily stopping the free market from building parking and charging for it (that I know of, and if there is then the code should be changed because I agree it limits options for the freemarket), but that those who want parking want it provided to them by WMATA or FFX (and many of them just like kvetching about WMATA and or FFX).

by Navid Roshan on Dec 3, 2013 2:34 pm • linkreport

FongFong; there is a middle ground. Wayfinding can be incorporated without it being incorporated with new massive subsidized garages. I understand the AAA use, and perhaps some neighborhood groups, to encourage more parking to be built but there is no indication that FFX Co Board is being suade at all in their stance for 0 subsidized parking spaces in Tysons for the metro.

Hopefully they keep that stance despite poor articles (was really shocked at Lori's article because she is usually better verse) that imply that the lack of parking is some oversight or mismanagement.

by Navid Roshan on Dec 3, 2013 2:36 pm • linkreport

just to clarify, a TMA is a transportation management association, equal to a TMD, but usually run by the private sector as a nonprofit, often in response to requirements tied to land use permissions.

E.g., in Potomac yard, because ArCo and Alexandria have declared that the area is already at maximum road capacity, they tie building approvals to demonstrated results in shifting transportation choices to sustainable modes, primarily transit, from motor vehicle trips.

In "congested places" or places with a mix of parking choices, I argue that parking wayfinding systems (like the ones by TCS) are useful. Others may argue, not without justification, that mobile applications obviate the need.

by Richard Layman on Dec 3, 2013 2:38 pm • linkreport

@Richard Layman, but thats what the Tysons Transportation Advisory Board is. They are in charge or tying land use to transportation improvements including the gathering of funds and the use of those funds; formed from land owners/neighborhood group leaders/representatives.

All building approvals in Tysons are directly tied to transportation per the comp plan. The planning commission/BoS ensures that any plan that comes online both adheres to the road grid/road fund/major improvements required of them. Then the Tysons Transportation Advisory Board acts as the implementer of those requirements.

I guess I am back to being confused again cause I'm not sure what else Tysons could do to connect transpo to land use.

by Navid Roshan on Dec 3, 2013 2:41 pm • linkreport

@ Navid Roshan

I don't think there is a snowball's chance that four large permanent parking ramps would be built -- one at each station. The subject was debated and a decision made not to build them. I also am not aware of any citizens group that is calling for this big change to the Comp Plan. It simply does not make sense long term.

On the other hand, there is strong community support temporary or interim parking. The 700+ space lot is close to completion. And I think there will be some more. I think the game plan is to price parking at or close to what WMATA charges. I would imagine that a landowner who could not make this work financially might propose a different rate or simply not participate.

The landowners aren't out to make a point or pick a fight with neighbors. If a landowner can make some money with parking and appear to be addressing community desires, I think he/she would take advantage of this.

The landowners have bigger fish to fry. As I understand it, they are having second thoughts about the service district that was imposed to raise some of the money required for the private share of the transportation network. They are looking at ways to count tax dollars raised in Tysons as part of their contribution. That's a big hill to climb and probably more important to them than picking a parking fight.

The fear is not retail per se. It's can I be competitive with other commercial space in Reston, Bethesda, Arlington, etc., with likely higher rental rates and paid parking versus lower rental rates and free parking?

by tmt on Dec 3, 2013 2:59 pm • linkreport

@tmt; at the Tysons advisory board meeting this past month some of them wanted to see a reduction in the district tax with relation to the new State Transpo bill. It looks for now that the transpo bill funds will only help to close the $5 million per year gap that was left in the transpo budget; but I believe every $5million per year accounts for a 1cent reduction in the tax rate.

I'd imagine they will continue to press for state assistance. I havent heard from many of the developers (beyond what would be expected) about a want for the tax to be repealed. It certainly hasn't slowed the development as there are several projects full green at this time. Most who are waiting are simply doing so to see what the market reaction will be/absorption.

by Navid Roshan on Dec 3, 2013 3:16 pm • linkreport

@tmt sorry on the issue of outer burbs vs inner. That is the dynamic for all CBDs. It is a balance of the free market. If Tysons develops as it is looking it will based on the first few years then there will be a premium and willingness of some land owners to be there rather than to be in Reston/outer free parking areas.

Some companies will prioritize parking and leave, some will like the urban environment and be new to Tysons. Its a give and take.

Parking isn't free, and it certainly isn't cheap as a land owner. I think people who live in outer outer parts don't understand that, but owners near the beltway do. I think the market will find that balance.

by Navid Roshan on Dec 3, 2013 3:18 pm • linkreport

"And I think there will be some more. I think the game plan is to price parking at or close to what WMATA charges. I would imagine that a landowner who could not make this work financially might propose a different rate or simply not participate."

If these are not going to be WMATA run lots (which has implications for payment method, rules, etc) I am not sure why the amount would be the same as what WMATA charges - especially as the current WMATA prices at Dunn Loring, Vienna, etc are not market clearing prices.

And the price and the quantity of parking are inter-related. Its possible that at $15, there is only demand for 700 spaces. But that at $4.75 there is demand for well over 2000 spaces. I would suggest that if per day cost per parking is only going to be about a third higher than the round trip cost of taking a Fairfax Connector bus, then the fact that people drive to park should not and cannot be seen as evidence that people won't ride the bus. Merely that we did not choose to make the bus a significantly better deal to commuters than parking.

Note, I said nothing about a parking tax on parking in Tysons overall. I assumed these would be WMATA run lots. If they are not, a parking tax might or might not be a good idea. I wouldnt imagine the would be garage owners would want to lose revenue to a tax - it might have appeal if it substituted for tax on development. But if they can shift that to the County, I imagine they would prefer that. Note also a tax on commuter parking by the metro stops could probably be structured to avoid forcing office building owners to charge their lessees and lessees employees for parking in the building. Similarly retailers could charge for parking and provide vouchers to people who shop at a store (as happens at Pentagon City, for example) and said voucher could cover the tax.

I do note that if the political strategy of the landownerse is that supporting commuter parking for residents of Mclean and other nearby areas will make it easier to shift costs for transport infra back to the County, that is a legitimate concern for people from the rest of the county, who would pay those costs, and not benefit from the parking.

I am not sure I understand the case that the current arrangement endangers the pace of development. IIUC the pace of construction and movement of projects into the pipeline has been frenetic, and office absorption has gone better than that for Arlington and in fact for most submarkets throughout NoVa (and in MoCo)

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 3, 2013 3:19 pm • linkreport

Some good points, and the Silver line will certainly get use without parking and work well for those who live near a station and work near a station, but most people that don't have both of those advantages will probably continue to drive.

I know it's impossible at this point to have a rail system like you might see in parts of Europe, but without that, Metro rail really still only works well for people who both live and work near it. For instance, doing both Metro bus and Metro rail for my partner turns a one-half hour driving commute into a 2+ hour commute, and few people are going to do that. I myself will always bike to work (one-half hour) rather than take a bus, train, and walk, which, even if timed perfectly for on the bus, still would take over an hour.

So, for those people, parking would be quite helpful, but if the line is used and full without it, as I suspect it will be, it still works.

by DE on Dec 3, 2013 3:24 pm • linkreport

lets note, resolution 14 does not, IIRC, make reference to the amount of commuter parking that is needed, or to the price.

I would like to know if the BOS really thinks that allowing the number of commuter lots it would take to meet demand at a price point of $4.75, a price point only about a third higher than the cost of a roundtrip on a FFX Connector bus, is really compatible the goal of changing commuter habits, and making Tysons into a WUP, and changing the mindset that sees all metro stations as park n rides.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 3, 2013 3:26 pm • linkreport

@AWITC - Construction of residential certainly has been at an incredible rate. Office has been more hit or miss; LMI's headquarters worked well for MRP and Deloitte/Intelsat to Macerich's Tysons Tower, but Lerner can't seem to get going on a project that has been delayed due to non-interest.

From what I have seen none of the major players have balked due to the district tax, and I think speculative leasing has more to do with Lerner's pause than the tax (because he will have to pay it regardless for the Tysons II mall which is a huge amount of space and assessed value already).

by Navid Roshan on Dec 3, 2013 3:28 pm • linkreport

"On the other hand, there is strong community support temporary or interim parking. "

from people who appear to think that there is no other way to get to the stations from over a half mile away except by car.

The Washington Post could do a greater service to the community by making clear what the alternatives are, and how workable they are.

Indeed, MCA could spend some time letting its own members, and the people of Mclean, become more aware of those alternatives. I note that Mclean now has bike parking in its commercial center, though IIUC that was more the initiative of the chamber of commerce than of MCA. Perhaps MCA should organize group bike rides to the new stations to give people an idea of how bikeable it is.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 3, 2013 3:30 pm • linkreport

navid

that raises another point. The county is regularly checking on progress, to, among other things, check on the balance between population and employment. Historically Tysons had too little population relative to employment and that is one of things the transformation is supposed to address. IF residential buildout moves ahead much faster than office, is that in fact a problem for the County? Im not sure it is (at least as long as most of the residential pop is not school age children).

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 3, 2013 3:32 pm • linkreport

@DE, if it is not accessible at this time to those people, they will still be assisted by the removal of 15,000 to 20,000 people who are in cars along the Route 7 and DTR corridor. That in itself is a huge improvement equivalent to an extra lane being added to Route 7 in its impact.

Over time, the hope would be that more and more people would have access without car as improvements continue to come like the Vesper Trail/ Route 7 trail/ etc.

And I think until then, some reasonable temporary parking, and more importantly some more options for the free market to provide commuter parking in Tysons, could be workable and wise to allow for... so long as its not permanent, and so long as its not subsidized or built by the County.

But, caveat, I really think there would be very very few takers with Lerners lot/Citylines lot/and Cherner being the few possible short term exceptions.

by Navid Roshan on Dec 3, 2013 3:33 pm • linkreport

@AWITC - Its funny, my building of 500-600 people has atleast 30 school aged children... that's not an insignificant amount, so I hope FC remains ahead of the curve. The good news is there have been some major expansions already in schools around Tysons including Spring Hill Elementary and George Marshall.

But I agree that more residential in Tysons is a healthy thing, will provide more intra-policy instead of inter-policy as well as more marketability for additional retail in the area.

It certainly is prime real estate in proximity for those who want easy access to jobs/transit.

by Navid Roshan on Dec 3, 2013 3:35 pm • linkreport

and folks driving into one of those reasonable, temporary, market driven lots, had better never, ever, hit one of the brave folks attempting to walk or cycle in Tysons, to Tysons, or to the metro stations. At such time as that happens, hopefully, instead of rehashing the modal safety wars, we will reexamine the logic behind bringing more cars into Tysons.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 3, 2013 3:40 pm • linkreport

@AWITC - there with you, but you gotta compromise at times if you ever want long term change. I fought the fight over the interim parking for months with Hudgins/BoS. They didnt want to hear it.

Pick battles, the real one is over the DTR ramps which cut right through the heart of pedestrian friendly parts of the city that don't need highways, they need more mixed use development.

by Navid Roshan on Dec 3, 2013 3:44 pm • linkreport

Im not battling the 700 space lot. Any further proposed commuter lots/garages should be evaluated on a case by case basis (I do think the current rules allow for that?)

I am suggesting A. that to the extent there is any public leverage, the parking rates should be higher, not lower B. To the extent the rates are as low as WMATA non market clearing, politically set, rates it needs to made crystal clear that these are PRIVATE lots, and there is NO public commitment either to their existence, or to their rates. C. It must be constantly reiterated that in the long run such parking is inconsistent with the change in Tysons - as are ANY increase in VMT beyond what are absolutely necessary. And that when modal conflicts take place in day to usage of the streets - it must be made crystal clear that these are URBAN streets, and that reactions about roads being built for streets, about cyclists not belonging on the road, about excessive deference to pedestrians, will be given zero credence. And that organizations now pushing hard for parking, like MCA, will be supportive of that zero credence.

I can easily envision a future in which auto entitlement reclaims Tysons ("The car is king, long live the king!") It is necessary to examine each and every policy question in terms of its impact on what is considered the default approach to Tysons. There are many who think an urban Tysons is a theoretical, ideological construct. Be wary.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 3, 2013 3:57 pm • linkreport

"roads being built for cars"

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 3, 2013 3:58 pm • linkreport

@AWITC - Well put and 100% agree as a resident. We just need more voices to battle those who would return to the status quo.

Car Is King would be a great name for a 50s themed diner :P

by Navid Roshan on Dec 3, 2013 4:01 pm • linkreport

AWalkerintheCity - the inappropriate amount of supply (too few spots) is why the Metro parking fills up. It's not like each Metro stop has other legal parking options near them you can pick.
You really are out of touch.

by asffa on Dec 3, 2013 4:02 pm • linkreport

note also that individual rezonings must be approved by relevant authorities.

MCA votes to support or not support such rezonings. AFAIK CSG, FABB, etc do not vote on such matters. The landowners have plenty of incentive to keep MCA sweet. Landowner cooperation with initiatives such as this cannot be taken as evidence of landowner views on the best future for Tysons.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 3, 2013 4:03 pm • linkreport

@asffa - its both, some of the people who park at WFC choose to do so despite having other avenues to get there. Most of the people that park at WFC come from within the area, and could reach there via frequent buses as well as bike/walking. The point is, by arbitrarily setting a low price you just encourage more cars on the road, and therefore require more expensive road infrastructure. Charging a higher rate both creates more needed revenue as well as reduces the amount of demand on local roads; and the point being that higher prices would not shake off the demand for those spots.

Parking is a commodity, we should be charging for it. For what its worth I also think that per sf used we should be charging for secure bike parking on the order of 50-75 cents for bikes per day.

by Navid Roshan on Dec 3, 2013 4:09 pm • linkreport

AWalkerintheCity - the inappropriate amount of supply (too few spots) is why the Metro parking fills up. It's not like each Metro stop has other legal parking options near them you can pick.

And he proposed a solution that shifted the burden of getting a space in one of those lots from getting there super early to just paying more money. The good thing about that is that Metro could use more money (say: more bus service to that particular metro station) while there isn't much it can do to leverage the time people choose to wake up.

by drumz on Dec 3, 2013 4:09 pm • linkreport

to my knowledge the MCA can not in themselves reject a plan submission; they make comments and the staff/planning commission hear those comments but do not have to in any way incorporate them.

I could be completely wrong, but thats what I remember from my experiences in the past at the PC meetings when I used to be on the dark side... err in Land Development

by Navid Roshan on Dec 3, 2013 4:12 pm • linkreport

"AWalkerintheCity - the inappropriate amount of supply (too few spots) is why the Metro parking fills up. It's not like each Metro stop has other legal parking options near them you can pick."

Dunn loring just had a new garage open as part of a plan to increase the number of spots. http://www.wmata.com/about_metro/news/PressReleaseDetail.cfm?ReleaseID=5564 In 2003 the number of spots at Springfield was significantly increased. Some years ago the number of spaces at Vienna was massively increased.

An increase in price would both better allocate the existing spaces, and provide a source of funding for both more spaces, and for alternatives means to access the stations.

Increasing the number of spots at metro stations, aside from being costly, adds to the burden on local streets, and can make it more difficult to access stations on foot.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 3, 2013 4:13 pm • linkreport

"to my knowledge the MCA can not in themselves reject a plan submission; they make comments and the staff/planning commission hear those comments but do not have to in any way incorporate them. "

Right, but if MCA SUPPORTS a plan, its going to be real hard for anyone who wants to outNIMBY them to get heard "see even MCA supports our plan!" So thats a pretty valuable endorsement. If I were a developer, I would do my best to stay on their good side.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 3, 2013 4:14 pm • linkreport

@AWITC - nah that exit from 66 to Nutley works great :P

I agree to some extent; I think at a certain point the higher parking rates could create the effect that the Greenway has created in people avoiding it all together; and it would be bad if going to far with parking would just mean more people driving further into the cities. Its a matter of balancing. Higher prices could easily be absorbed and would go a long way in making it possible for people who don't want to drive and park, and would be amiable to changing to other modes of transportation, to be able to do so.

Its not that people hate buses, or hate trails/walking; its that access to them is spotty and information about them is too. No one is forcing them to change to that behavior, but ending over subsidization to not use them, as well as providing a steady revenue source to make it more usable is absolutely a good thing.

by Navid Roshan on Dec 3, 2013 4:17 pm • linkreport

@AWITC - Hmmmm never seen it that way. Capital One must have really annoyed them by not playing ball cause they still are complaining about the proposed height increase; though Cityline attained approval quite easily without much of a peep from the usual suspects.

Makes you wonder whats really happening behind doors. Sure have been a lot more festivals in McLean this year; I'll tell you that much.

by Navid Roshan on Dec 3, 2013 4:19 pm • linkreport

AFAIK, DTR WFC MCA SL! IIRC, TI. ISWYDT.

by AcroNaut on Dec 3, 2013 6:38 pm • linkreport

Some of the office buildings and hotels in Tysons already charge for parking, e.g., the ones attached to the Galleria. Eventually, it'll evolve to something more like Bethesda, or much of outlying Los Angeles, where people are accustomed to paying for parking.

Joel Garreau was wrong: Tysons is a pretty weird beast as far as Edge Cities go. Fairfax, like other counties around here but unlike a lot of other counties nationally, actually has relatively strong planning, so there's a sharp density drop-off between Tysons and the very low-density residential surrounding it. That means there's nowhere to put satellite parking facilities.

Not that I can even see who their target market would be: the area for which driving to the Silver Line would be easier than walking, or driving to the Orange Line, is mostly those areas north of 123 and east of Hunter Mill (Reston) -- i.e., north McLean and Great Falls. There are exactly four census tracts in this area with densities higher than 5/acre (3200/sq. mi.), and these are among the wealthiest parts of the country.

A few other neighborhoods within one mile of Tysons, like Pimmit Hills, might require some special accommodation: on-demand community shuttles, individual TDM plans, bike classes, etc. Surely that would be cheaper than entirely new garages, though.

@Navid: thanks for the 112,000 number. I know that I'd seen that before, but lost track of it, and Ffx's annual progress reports mention "a parking inventory will be done" but not an actual #. That is enough parking to fill 900 acres, or the entirety of the National Mall & both Potomac Parks. It's enough parking, all right, but it needs to be better priced.

by Payton on Dec 3, 2013 6:59 pm • linkreport

One problem with expecting people to walk to the stations is that none of the stations are near the residential parts of Tysons. The cloest areas with residential are West Park Dr, Jones Branch Dr and Park Run Dr and they are still far.

If you live along or near Chain Bridge Rd, Woodford Rd, Gallows Rd, Old Courthouse Rd, Anderson Rd, or Margarity Rd you will have a long *** dangerous walk.

I personally think one of them should have atleast had parking. Whats worst is that by also adding in the bus changes some areas will have worst service than they do now.

by kk on Dec 3, 2013 7:39 pm • linkreport

When I think of things that would make spending time in Tysons more fun / bearable, new parking garages are not what springs to mind.

by renegade09 on Dec 3, 2013 7:41 pm • linkreport

@ AWalkerInTheCity

Actually it does take away one option; less trains as once the Silver Line starts Vienna, Dunn Loring and West Falls Church will see less trains.

by kk on Dec 3, 2013 7:45 pm • linkreport

kk

They still have the option to park in WFC. Are we building parking for them so they don't have to wait for the next orange line train along with the ordinary folks who live in south vienna, in Fairfax circle, in Merrifield, and in Falls Church?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 3, 2013 9:25 pm • linkreport

@ aWalkinthecity

As I said before they do but with less service as WMATA has already stated less trains will be going to West Falls Church.

by kk on Dec 3, 2013 10:01 pm • linkreport

@Navid Roshan

Re transportation taxes. The landowners do, indeed, wish to reduce their share of the costs for transportation infrastructure and are seeking to apply the money paid in Tysons under the increased sales tax (for transportation) to the private share of the Table 7 costs. I have been informed that the County and state legislators oppose this, as they believe the additional money can be used for the public share and not the private. I believe the landowners will continue to argue for their position.
If the landowners' position were adopted, it could hurt everyone in Fairfax County as the additional transportation funds would not be available for other projects in the county.

by tmt on Dec 4, 2013 6:56 am • linkreport

@ AWalkerInTheCity

"MCA votes to support or not support such rezonings. AFAIK CSG, FABB, etc do not vote on such matters. The landowners have plenty of incentive to keep MCA sweet. Landowner cooperation with initiatives such as this cannot be taken as evidence of landowner views on the best future for Tysons."

What evidence do you have that the MCA's review and votes on rezoning applications are not related to the merits of the proposal, its compliance with the Comp Plan and other applicable standards or the projected impacts on Tysons or surrounding areas? You attack as corrupt any person or entity that does not agree with your views. You resent the credibility the MCA has with decision-makers on Tysons, implying it has to do solely with income and influence. You seem to be ignoring the thousands of hours MCA volunteers spent working on Tysons issues. Are you aware that an engineer and an architect using VDOT standards mapped the RoW needs of the DTR expansion? Are you aware that the MCA has devoted hundreds of hours to help expand bike routes in Tysons and McLean?

You are certainly entitled to your opinions and to advocate them. But why aren't others? And why does public officials agreeing with others mean their is something untoward?

by tmt on Dec 4, 2013 7:21 am • linkreport

AWITC -- Perhaps MCA should organize group bike rides to the new stations to give people an idea of how bikeable it is.

That's a great idea. But probably it should be done by FABB in any case. And there should be regular "bike tours" from neighborhoods to the stations, etc.

This is the kind of programming I am talking about

Navid -- with the Advisory Board, I have a call into FC to clarify how things are working now. I still don't think it's a full fledged TMA, at least in how they function in other places. It it were, some of these things covered in the thread would be happening...

by Richard Layman on Dec 4, 2013 8:10 am • linkreport

@TMT - Agree on the issue of the land owners, but from what I heard during the Advisory board meeting, it was mostly from those not seeking rezoning (we know who they are). Cityline/Georgelas/JGBR of course aren't against a reduction in the rate but seem less vocal and adamant on its need from what I have seen.

I think one thing that should be consider would be a reduction on the existing residential home owners within Tysons, as this was a major sticking point of the debate before it was passed. I agree that those that benefit the most, rezoning/commercial owners, should be those who continue to pay for the infrastructure similar to that which occurred on Route 28; but I wouldn't also be opposed to state money from the new bill helping in accelerating the changes.

One of the reasons the existing res component was left was that it was seen as a source of immediate funds to get more projects underway.

We'll see. I'm not griping, so long as my additional taxes means I actually see benefits. So far all I have seen in my neighborhood is a reduction in bus frequency/routes and no movement on several dangerous street intx that cost almost nothing to improve.

by Navid Roshan on Dec 4, 2013 9:07 am • linkreport

tmt

Everyone is entitled to advocate. And similarly we are entitled to judge the extent and nature of influence by advocacy groups. I am judging that based on what I see in county policies, as well as what I have seen asserted here, including by you.

MCAs influence seems to be strong on a range of issues, not just on ones where expertise of theirs might play a role, and it appears to be strongest on elected officials they have a direct political influence over.

As for their expertise - I pay taxes so the county can hire professionals who can do analyses independent of any particular interest. If Fairfax County is so deeply reliant on a private organization, representing one section of the County (and not all citizens of that section) then perhaps we need to review if we have enough engineers, architects and planners, at FCDOT and at the Dept of Planning and Zoning.

It is of course possible that MCA would support a rezoning app by a developer that publicly asserted that MCA was wrong about parking and other issues of great concern to them in Tysons. Were I a developer, I don't think I would bet on that though. Certainly not on an issue that was not crucial to me.

"You attack as corrupt any person or entity that does not agree with your views."

Please show me where I have called anyone corrupt. I have not. It is not corrupt for politicians to seek reelection, or for developers to try to avoid giving offense.

You seem to think that anyone who disagrees with your view of what is possible in Tysons is a naive, ideological, radical - except when they are a cynic, or a slanderer.

All I am saying is that the fact that landowners, with major financial interests at stake, interests hostage to political influence, say they agree or disagree with position X, cannot be taken as evidence of the actual impact of position X. I beleive that commuter parking will detract from the transformation of Tysons. The landowners have not objected to such commuter parking. I am asserting that that is not evidence that commuter parking is not detracting from the transformation - but rather, as you have stated, the landowners have bigger fish to fry.

You seem to want to deter any discussion that says that commuter parking will harm Tysons, and indeed of any claims that the car will be less king of tysons than VDOT and MCA envision.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 4, 2013 9:18 am • linkreport

The parking spaces that metro currently has need to be priced to reflect the demand for those spaces and the cost of increasing the supply of those spaces.

As I said, in Greenbelt, there is little demand for $4.50 spaces and the cost to add additional spaces would be little. If anything, charge a little less.

In West Falls Church, the demand far exceeds the $4.75 fee and the cost to add additional spaces would be large. Charge more.

Metro is subsidized to move people, not to park cars.

by Richard on Dec 4, 2013 9:22 am • linkreport

Richard Layman

FABB is in fact discussing organizing such things. Really if this were Arlington the County, via BikeArlington would do that. We do not yet have a bike fairfax (a bike education and encouragement function within FCDOT), and that is something FABB is advocating for.

I mention MCA because MCA seems to have very substantial resources, and its Mclean residents in particular who are complaining about how hard it will be to access the stations, and many of whom seem unaware of the possibility of bike commuting. MCA can probably reach them more easily than FABB can.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 4, 2013 9:22 am • linkreport

Interesting discussion, but it seems to depend too much on statics rather than even short-term change. Tysons is an oddity in that it has both intensive development and surprising numbers of unbuilt parcels and underutilized and/or somewhat obsolete properties.

I'm guessing that the empty parcels are not priced cheap, but they do represent places where more intensive uses often can be added to existing ones or provide ways to redevelop existing sites. There are tremendous amounts of surface parking not far from the Metro or the major thoroughfares--these seem to be attached to buildings that went up 30-40 years ago and probably will be ripe for redevelopment in the next decade. Alternatively, they're probably filled with tenants on 5 or 10 year leases who could easily be forced to pay more for the locations (which would enable redevelopment of parking lots as more intensive development (which would necessitate some alternative short-term parking). There are a number of shopping strips along the Metro route which are probably 30-50 years old and no longer attract A-list tenants. These have huge frontages and are prime candidates for redevelopment and more intensive use will bring more parking. Because of the frontage sizes, some of these properties could be redeveloped in stages like Pike & Rose in Rockville, which would prevent dumping of property onto the market which might slow redevelopment if real estate hits another wall (which seems likely at some point in the future).

Interim solutions have a habit of being permanent, much like the WWII housing that's still standing or worse, so I I'd rather bet on evolution over short-sighted short-term solutions, although that's probably what the best organized NIMBYs support. I tend to view mention of "markets" here as typically simplistic and inattentive to the often violated assumptions about efficient markets, but I suspect that parking in the Tysons area will take care of itself over the next decade. Metro will provide a new revenue stream for parking operators and I would imagine that increasing parking "costs" in lease renewals represent a way for landlords to squeeze more out of tenants who have limited choices for their large operations. I also suspect that Metro will stimulate redevelopment of declining shopping strips and surface lots that are empty outside of normal working hours.

In the longrun, the increased emphasis on teleworking may decouple parking from employment benefits--parking will be more costly if its only partially used and building owners/parking operators will want to get more out of that unused space. Telework also converts people into visitors rather than commuters and this also may change the way workers use parking and public transit.

Not mentioned here are visitors to the area---Tysons by bus has all the shortcomings of Tysons by car, except someone else is driving. It's a time consuming, easily dreaded experience. But Tysons by train will draw people who would otherwise avoid the area--given that internet sales are killing brick and mortar stores, this should not be underestimated for the mall, which remains a core draw. This probably would help small businesses and some regular visitors to large ones, as well.

I suspect the Silver Line will start slow but quickly pickup riders. Avoiding some of the worst bottlenecks in the region will be a significant draw.

by Rich on Dec 4, 2013 9:51 am • linkreport

AWalkerintheCity and others - when you advocate making parking at Metro inadequate to demand and more expensive, you are invalidating any claim you're trying to get people to drive less. Clueless.
I love the "but they can bus.." *headdesk* CLUELESS.
They're going to the Metro to be able to not use their car on their drive to work, and hopefully bring enough home more than they have to pay out in fares to make it worthwhile. Probably really think 17$ a day/typical parking lot prices wouldn't be a real hardship for much of the current ridership, or that they don't matter. "let them eat cake".
There's also no way additions to Metro on the VA side don't impact the rest of Metro, and any gained money spread to older portions of Metro that need money to be fixed. New parts of Silver Line shouldn't be helping to cause older parts of the Red Line go down in flames or muddy water.

by asffa on Dec 4, 2013 9:57 am • linkreport

That logic basically says in order to reduce driving we must make it easier to drive.

by drumz on Dec 4, 2013 10:07 am • linkreport

"AWalkerintheCity and others - when you advocate making parking at Metro inadequate to demand and more expensive, you are invalidating any claim you're trying to get people to drive less. Clueless."

Im addressing actual issues at specific stations in Va. Where building more parking is expensive or difficult (as at Vienna and Dunn Loring) or where it conflicts with long range plans (such as at Tysons). Given that there is, IIUC, no place to put substantially more parking at Vienna metro station, and that it fills at 8AM, raising the price (though not to $17, for Vienna probably $6 would be enough) would not reduce the number of people who could/would park there.

Possibly the new revenue could be dedicated to funding transit extension west of Vienna, to places where adding more commuter might be more feasible.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 4, 2013 10:12 am • linkreport

Again, if we replace the cost of parking at metro with money instead of time then we could improve the bus routes like Walker and I have said.

What's more fair about early risers getting to spots than someone who's willing to pay more? As someone else said, it's metro's job to move people not ensure that your car is parked nearby.

by drumz on Dec 4, 2013 10:16 am • linkreport

asffa - I have a degree and license in Professional Engineering; I think my knowledge of transportation systems is a bit more than just "clueless" considering my years of work in the field. Your statements, if anything, are the ones that require refinement. Better bus networks DO remove vehicles from the road when coupled by infrastructure that allows them to flow more freely than standard road lanes (ie bus lanes, special bus ramps).

These have already worked, in Fairfax, btw. See the very popular and effective 425 and 427 routes. My wife used to drive and park at WFC, until she discovered she could get there in 1/3rd the time (5-7 minutes) and for 1/3rd the cost via that bus.

The idea isn't to make it tougher for people to park, the idea is to stop subsidizing that parking. Parking at metro is a net revenue loss. The construction cost/operation is never paid back and the loss in revenue from taxes from what COULD be on that lot is massive. For instance, Tysons Tower, which is coming up next to Tysons Station, will net Fairfax County somewhere between 2 and 3.5 million dollars PER YEAR in tax revenue which otherwise would not be attained by a parking garage.

THAT

IS

THE

POINT

This isn't a war on car, this is the ending of ridiculous subsidies towards the drive and park culture, and taking that money to make it easier for those people to also not have to drive and park, because at the end of the day that parking is not free(despite what they charge).

If a private company can make money off of parking, then all the better, but I assure you they can't do so charging $4.50.

End Rant

by Navid Roshan on Dec 4, 2013 10:31 am • linkreport

1. The point about differentiated pricing for parking at certain WMATA stations is in part related to the fact that these are endpoint stations, and have a different kind of demand equation (people from outlying areas drive in).

2. The issue of the Post article is whether or not the Tysons stations have the same kinds of conditions. Clearly, the people in this thread don't think so.

3. Where the argument is concerns how to deal with access to the stations, programmatically, with interim solutions, etc., given that current conditions aren't conducive to walking.

Rich's points, that interim solutions have a way of becoming permanent, is exactly the case for not building very expensive parking structures now, as are Navid's that spending tons of money on parking structures doesn't have great economic return.

4. But at the same time we have to be more focused on assisting people in their changing their behavior, rather than just letting it trickle down.

5. My interest in the discussion is about not doing a great job on coordinating "education", shared parking options, coordinated sustainable mobility infrastructure integration, etc., and how this is an illustration of something that we should be more conscious of, something that isn't exclusive to Fairfax.

6. I would aver that some of the pricing argument-discussion wrt parking at the stations is really most germane to another thread.

Just as WMATA through the bike and ped planning process came up with a typology for stations and bike/ped infrastructure, this typology can be extended to address parking, and provides a framework to consider differentiated pricing.

Given Navid's point about the real opportunity costs involved in providing parking at Metro stations, this is worthy of further consideration.

e.g. the new parking garage at Glenmont cost about $25MM, a little more than $20,000 per space.

http://www.gazette.net/article/20120416/NEWS/704169934/1022/eco-friendly-parking-garage-opened-at-glenmont-metro-station&template=gazette

P.S., Navid, a TMA hasn't yet been created. The County and Tysons Partnership are aiming to create such a body next year.

by Richard Layman on Dec 4, 2013 1:43 pm • linkreport

@Richard L, you laid that down like only a planner can and I loved it. Thanks for the heads up on the TMA, I'll have to stay tuned in on that.

Also +1 on using the word aver; not to be confused with the word haver which literally means the exact opposite.

TIL what the heck the Proclaimers were proclaiming about.

by Navid Roshan on Dec 4, 2013 2:02 pm • linkreport

Question-Is the goal to get commuters to ride Metro? If so, than parking must increase. I live a mile from East Falls Church and work in Tysons. If parking was avaliable (fills up by 7:30), I would take Metro. Not a chance I am going to bike/bus/etc to a statation just to take Metro. Would double my commute time.

The notion of "changing behavoir" is unreleastic. Too many are so anti-driving could make the Slive Line a failure.

by Hondo on Dec 4, 2013 2:26 pm • linkreport

The goal is to both get commuters to metro and to transform tysons into a more walkable place, which will further mean more people using metro.

In order to make it possible for car commuters to use metro, a large new parking garage has been built at Reston-Wiehle, which is the end of the line. No one I know of objects to that.

The issue is the stops at Tysons. They are mainly going to serve as destination stops for people who work in Tysons, as well as origin stops for people who live in Tysons and who can walk, bike, or bus fairly easily. Serving people who live outside the Tysons Urban District, to commute elsewhere, is there third priority. Some of those people will still do so, but by bike or by bus. Is it worth building to parking for car commuters at Tysons? Whether it is or not, at least 700 spots are now UC. More may well be on their way. My concern is that they not turn from an interim solution to a permanent solution, and that they be priced appropriately.

Why is "changing behavior" unrealistic? Do you still do all your shopping (including for books and music) at brick and mortar stores? Do you never telework? Do you drive a 1960s style station wagon? People change their behavior all the time. Its not really that radical a notion - depending on the extent and pace of change envisioned.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 4, 2013 2:36 pm • linkreport

Hondo -- this isn't a snark ... why do you have to drive to the Metro? I am the first to admit that I don't know where you live or the spatial conditions between where you live and the station. But can those spatial conditions be improved to increase the number of people getting to the Metro by foot, bike, or bus?

I had a great conversation with a planner in Vienna once, and I followed up with a proposal to do a plan for making a sustainable mobility corridor from the Metro to Vienna and GMU (a la my "signature streets" concept that I first laid out in Baltimore County. Never got a response...

These are the kinds of programs that need to be done for each station catchment area in my opinion.

2. Relatedly, I keep suggesting doing pilot programs to various stakeholders, to do the same kind of thing from the Mount Royal light rail station to Penn Station and from Woodberry LR station to Hampden in Baltimore City and I get no takeup on that either...

by Richard Layman on Dec 4, 2013 2:37 pm • linkreport

Question-Is the goal to get commuters to ride Metro? If so, than parking must increase.

It doesn't have to be that way. You could make sure more people live close enough to walk/bike/bus to the stations. I'm not sure why you're convinced that people won't take metro if they can't drive. How do you explain Arlington or even all the people who take the bus to Vienna or other park and ride stations?

The goal isn't just to get people to ride metro, the overall goal is to allow more development in Tysons without the commensurate increases in traffic that we've seen. To that end, metro is a means and not the end.

I live about a mile from East Falls Church. Sometimes my wife drops me off but other times (like in the summer since she's a school teacher) I take the bus. With Nextbus available on my phone it makes me about 5-10 minutes later than I would if I was dropped off.

tl;dr you shouldn't build lots of parking if the goal is to bring down traffic.

by drumz on Dec 4, 2013 2:40 pm • linkreport

had a great conversation with a planner in Vienna once, and I followed up with a proposal to do a plan for making a sustainable mobility corridor from the Metro to Vienna and GMU (a la my "signature streets" concept that I first laid out in Baltimore County. Never got a response...

http://www.fairfaxva.gov/fairfax-mason-to-metro-bicycle-route

http://www.thewashcycle.com/2013/08/capital-bikeshare-to-fairfax-county-mt-vernon-trail-and-14th-street-bridge-improvements-part-of-2013.html

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 4, 2013 2:48 pm • linkreport

hondo - if EFC fills up by 7:30, that suggests its priced too low, doesnt it?

And where would one put more parking near EFC metro? Thats a mostly built out area. Some older commercial properties are being torn down to create new higher density developments, but those new uses can probably pay more for land than a parking lot that only charges $4.50 a day.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 4, 2013 2:51 pm • linkreport

If metro relied on only drive and park for ridership there would be only a fraction of the number of people using metro.

Land use, and alternative access is how metro already works. The commuter parking even when massive in the case of Vienna or Wiehle only accounts for a couple of thousand riders; well short of the hundreds of thousands of riders that take metro daily.

That money for the garages instead would be far better spent getting you to metro faster than your car ever could. Bus lanes, better bike access, and in general land use that makes it possible so that a majority of people don't live more than 1 mile from metro are much better uses IMHO

by Navid Roshan on Dec 4, 2013 2:54 pm • linkreport

"hondo - if EFC fills up by 7:30, that suggests its priced too low, doesnt it?"
No, it means they didn't build adequate parking to be useful to many people.

by asffa on Dec 4, 2013 4:01 pm • linkreport

asffa

Look at a map of the EFC area. Where would you build more parking? Could you cover the value of the land in that area, and the cost of building a garage, with a revenue of only $4.50 per day per space?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 4, 2013 4:04 pm • linkreport

Im not necessarily against more parking garages at metro stations. But by artificially holding down parking rates, you are not making that more likely. Its like rent control, but for parking.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 4, 2013 4:13 pm • linkreport

@asffa - but what constitutes many people? Even the biggest garages account for 20-30% of ridership from a station max with the exception of the outlying stations and even those it only accounts for half the ridership from SOV. Parking is super inefficient as a volume usage. 1 car takes up a lot of space, so even mega garages for 2500 people that cost upwards up $1MIL really make very little dent in the ridership statistics.

You will never have a more sustainable system if the best solution you have is just make more parking, cause that just makes the subsidies larger and larger and larger without farebox recovery to account for it.

by Navid Roshan on Dec 4, 2013 4:21 pm • linkreport

Sorry that $1 MIL is $100Mil

by Navid Roshan on Dec 4, 2013 4:22 pm • linkreport

100 million for a 2500 car garage - so thats $40,000 per space, give or take?

$5 per day used 250 days a year, is $1,250 per year in revenue - even ignoring operating costs for the garage, its easy to see that that is a substantial subsidy to parking. Maybe worthwhile at end of line stops to get more drivers onto metro, but hardly a good idea for inner stops where WUP type development is possible.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 4, 2013 4:28 pm • linkreport

In addition to the construction cost is the operation and maintenance cost, which in Shoup's book is described as almost equivalent to the construction cost over a 30-year cycle (if I recall correctly).

So $200 million for a 2500 space garage, is $80,000 per space over 30 years. Assuming a discount rate of about 5%, that's about $400 a month, or $21 a day.

You could probably play with the numbers and get a range of $12-30 per day, but if you're not paying that, the price is essentially below what it costs to build, operate and maintain an underground garage.

by Michael Perkins on Dec 4, 2013 4:43 pm • linkreport

@Michael - which is why you rarely see privately built and operated new garages. You usually end up seeing private garages being retrofitted by removing former office parking spaces and converting them to market rate because in that way the manager is taking an already sunk cost and making it less of a sunk cost.

The exception is in super urban areas where people are willing to pay the 15-20 bucks and even then, the developers often balance out the possibility of making some money off of it vs what else could be built on the same area/incentives to leasers.

That is the cost of parking, people just don't seem to want to recognize it; they want something for nothing to satiate their objectives.

by Navid Roshan on Dec 4, 2013 4:49 pm • linkreport

You're only looking at that, though the public need is the only reason Metro exists. The public need - to make an affordable way for people who can't afford cabs and such every day to get to work and back. It's not because it earns back as much as is given out.
People earning big cash in VA are using the Lexus lanes. There's a lot of people who look at how to cash in on people's misery with traffic congestion, even considering ways to make it worse like "repurposing" lanes, cutting parking out, raising fees, etc. Ghouls like that may be running things now, but they're using and taking from the public "good" plans meant to help people of average and less means be able to get around from their homes to work.
From Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Metropolitan_Area_Transit_Authority
"In fiscal year 2010, 31.1% of revenues came from capital contributions, 20.2% from passenger revenues, 32.1% from local jurisdiction operating subsidies, 3.5% from interest income, 1.9% from advertising revenue, 1.1% from rental revenue, and 0.1% from other sources."

by asffa on Dec 4, 2013 5:10 pm • linkreport

The public need - to make an affordable way for people who can't afford cabs and such every day to get to work and back.

So why should metro/fairfax spend money on storing cars when that money could be used on moving people? Also, why should land be devoted to storing vehicles when that land could also be used to house people or jobs close to transit?

by drumz on Dec 4, 2013 5:21 pm • linkreport

Im willing to see some subsidy to parking garages to leverage metro - I don't know that the Wiehle Avenue garage will be a money maker, or the proposed garages for Silver Line Phase 2 (asffa should note that someone who parks and rides metro benefits from both the metro subsidy AND the parking subsidy). But we need to compare that to the access we can create for the same funds by improving biking and ped access, by supporting buses, etc.

Note that repurposing lanes is not cashing in, but providing a way to improve bus service. And of course adding parking does not reduce congestion on local roads. And raising fees for a parking lot of a given size only reallocates the spots.

If people do not get paid enough to live, perhaps the minimum wage should be increased.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 4, 2013 5:22 pm • linkreport

but they're using and taking from the public "good" plans meant to help people of average and less means be able to get around from their homes to work.

Ok - but you still haven't made the case for why cheap parking garages is the best way to help "people of average and less means" get around.

I would argue that dense, pedestrian-oriented development around transit stations is the best way to do so.

by Alex B. on Dec 4, 2013 5:23 pm • linkreport

"I would argue that dense, pedestrian-oriented development around transit stations is the best way to do so."

Does that solve the problem of, say, a GS12 heading a one income family, who wants a SFH with a lawn and to not take a bus?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 4, 2013 5:42 pm • linkreport

Then that guy will just have to do what my father in law did and take a job in Stafford I guess.

by drumz on Dec 4, 2013 5:48 pm • linkreport

Just to be accurate, $100MM is too high an estimate to build a 2500 space garage. WMATA did a 1200 space garage at Glenmont for about $25MM. But, they already owned the land. And there is the issue of opportunity costs.

The rule of thumb is $25K to $40K per space in a structured setting. And yes, given the other commentary, it's cheaper to move people to stations by bus.

I was thinking about this/e.g., the EFC case, last night and wondering what a zip code analysis would find of the parking users there. It seems like a RideOn like pattern for service in that area could feed area residents to the Metro?

It's funny too, because we live 0.8 miles to the Metro and that's about as far as people seem to want to walk. (We live in the equivalent of new urbanism T4). But it's not that bad. I only walk when I go with Suzanne. Otherwise I bike and it's 5 minutes...

by Richard Layman on Dec 5, 2013 7:13 am • linkreport

@Richard When you are dealing with tight constraints in dense regions like Tysons near metro, the costs escalate because of the need to go vertical or down into the ground. Upwards of $100M is a $40,000 space which if the garage had to be 6 stories high, or 6 stories down like at Wiehle is an approximate real cost. Consider you also have to do massive infrastructure realignment for roadways, underground utilities, etc.

Areas with high density commercial have massive utilities which are very costly to relocate.

I think the $100M for a Tysons parking lot of 2500 is basically correct, and it would be surprising when all things are added up (signalization, new ramps, etc) that it would come out closer to the $25000 number.

by Navid Roshan on Dec 5, 2013 9:44 am • linkreport

Good point. and YES, that is a helluva lot of $. At a much bigger scale than some of the "waste" or failure to set priorities. E.g., DC claims it will delay revitalizing a public housing project because it didn't receive a $500K grant from the Federal govt. Meanwhile, we are spending $11.5 million to replace all of the garbage and recycling cans in the city. I understand replacing the recycling cans since all will be enlarged. But upwards of 80% to 90% of the standard waste cans are fully usable and the cans won't be increasing in size, so they are being unnecessarily replaced. That's $4MM or so that could be used for other things, like that housing project.

Anyway, $400MM of opportunity costs are hugely significant.

I don't understand why we don't better communicate about choices and constraints when it comes to such issues.

by Richard Layman on Dec 5, 2013 10:29 am • linkreport

Alex B. The new densely packed condominiums by Metro stations aren't bought or used mostly by people without cars so your plan to avoid needing additional parking is void.
Planners take note of FACTS - a 500K condominium near DC usually isn't bought by someone who bikes, uses the bus, BRTs, or Metros their way around. Oh, they may walk around their building to things - if it's under a quarter of a mile. Other than that, generally forget them using foot power or public transit.
Also, you can't get hipsters to ride a bus for other than novelty, even if it's a brand new bus system, and the whole time they'll be complaining.

by asffa on Dec 5, 2013 10:59 am • linkreport

The new densely packed condominiums by Metro stations aren't bought or used mostly by people without cars

So? You're argument is weak on two points:

A: Even with high car ownership rates,traffic can still go down when you build densely near transit. Also, the ownership rates go down as well (see low car ownership rates in places with good access to transit both locally and nationally).

B: Your position is that WMATA or Fairfax county should have built garages near metro. What that statement argues is that a condo should build parking because people will want it. Those aren't the same things.

I'll ask, you're logic basically says that in order to curb driving we have to make it really easy to drive by providing lots of parking. How does that lead to less people driving?

by drumz on Dec 5, 2013 11:10 am • linkreport

"Alex B. The new densely packed condominiums by Metro stations aren't bought or used mostly by people without cars so your plan to avoid needing additional parking is void."

some are. but thats not really the point, since we are discussing metro lots.

"Planners take note of FACTS - a 500K condominium near DC usually isn't bought by someone who bikes, uses the bus, BRTs, or Metros their way around."

actually convenience to metro is a huge selling point for those, which is why they sell for more when they are close to a metro. Some of the new ones advertise their bike facilities. If you think only poor people bike, you havent been to a high end bike shop lately.

" Oh, they may walk around their building to things - if it's under a quarter of a mile. Other than that, generally forget them using foot power or public transit."

You should give up on generalizing about people you dont know. You are in fact incorrect.

"Also, you can't get hipsters to ride a bus for other than novelty, even if it's a brand new bus system, and the whole time they'll be complaining. "

I dont know exactly what "hipster" means, but there are plenty of young college educated people who ride buses. In Fairfax there are even older college educated people who ride the express buses.

Again, have you ever been to the Pentagon bus station on a weekday rush hour?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 5, 2013 11:14 am • linkreport

to AWalkerInTheCity-

my options:
1. walk 15 minutes to a bus stop, wait 5 minutes for a bus, 5 min bus ride, wait 5 for Metro, plus ride on Metro

2. drive and be in the office in 20 mins

which one would you choose?

if sufficent parking was avaliable at EFC, I would take the train.

Garage structure would be the way to go.

by Hondo on Dec 5, 2013 11:15 am • linkreport

"So? You're argument is weak on two points:"

his argument is incorrect because its based on assertions that are in fact incorrect, which is obvious to anyone who has walked around Clarendon, Ballston, or even Shirlington (or I guess Bethesda, though I havent walked around there lately).

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 5, 2013 11:16 am • linkreport

previoulsy, i lived in one of the high end condos. I enjoyed walking for dinner/shopping. Not in a million years would I take a bus.

by Hondo on Dec 5, 2013 11:17 am • linkreport

"Garage structure would be the way to go."

where would you build it? On the sites of the existing surface lots? That will limiit the number of new spots, and it will be costly on those constrained parcels. Of course they will have to be subsidized since $4.50 per day won't come close to paying for them.

Alternatively, if we want to subsidize getting people who live near EFC out of their cars, it would probably be cheaper to increase bus service from neighborhoods like yours directly into Tysons. You seem to ignore bus as an option.

As for me personally, I'm not sure exactly where you live, but if I lived relatively close to EFC metro, and worked in Tysons, I would almost certainly bike, at least most days.

For $4.50 a day, at 200 days a year, one year's parking would pay for a more than decent $700 commuter bike (if I didnt already have one) plus a helmet and lights.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 5, 2013 11:25 am • linkreport

"previoulsy, i lived in one of the high end condos. I enjoyed walking for dinner/shopping. Not in a million years would I take a bus. "

Well, not everyone is like you. We are a carlite family, and while I take express buses on weekdays, on weekends I often take my bike on the bus. I see people you might think are hipster boarding the 16 bus on Columbia Pike from Walter Reed to the Pentagon, and boarding the 3A from Cherrydale in to Rosslyn.

If the bus service were more frequent (the 3A is anything but) it would likely attract even more people who are not what you may envision as typical bus riders.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 5, 2013 11:29 am • linkreport

AWITC,

That too. But there were problems prima facie in the argument that was provided. But as you said, it goes back to generalizing.

Hondo,

In your situation I'd drive too (though if the walk/bus ride to metro is only 20 minutes then biking is an eminently reasonable option as well). But many here have laid out that in terms of costs and recovery it's better to simply build densely near metro so that people can bike/bus/or walk to metro which frees up space for people further out to drive anyway.

Also, I think the bus is quite nice. It's a big safe vehicle that takes me where I want to go and I can read or whatever. Much like metro.

by drumz on Dec 5, 2013 11:31 am • linkreport

aasfa -- while it all depends on where it is located, multiunit building dwellers do tend to walk, use transit, and bike more than do occupants of single family dwelling units.

It really matters where it is located though. People living in Metrowest (not condos) aren't likely to use Metro all that much, compared to people living by Courthouse or Clarendon Metro, or in downtown DC. People at Columbia Heights, Petworth, or Takoma Metro are more likely to walk, use transit, or bike than people in distant locations.

WMATA's 2005 ridership study found that residents in multiunit buildings living from 0.0 to 0.5 miles from a Metro station rode transit to work at rates of something like 33% to 55% depending on distance from the station. And they used transit for other trips. Similarly, office buildings proximate to transit had rates similarly high, compared to places not proximate to transit.

The trick is that repatterning of behavior happens over long time frames.

When MoCo got the red line, it expanded RideOn and set it up to move people to the transit stations without their having to drive to the stations. Some stations do have parking facilities, others don't.

I don't think the same thing happened with Orange Line stations from EFC to Vienna, at least in the same in depth manner.

2. Note that the multiunit vs. single family house issue is really important. It's the crux of the argument in DC about proposed changes in parking regulations. SFH opponents to the changes argue that multiunit tenants will behave just like them, when the reality is that they don't.

The problem is that DC OP and DDOT have not backed up this reality with solid research to demonstrate it.

It percolates up from traffic studies. E.g., I was shocked to see a traffic study for a proposed development in Takoma, that also surveyed vehicle trips from the nearby Gables building on Blair Road. Even though Ward 4 is known for automobile centricity, only about 25% of the rush hour trips from the building were via motor vehicle. My understanding too is that the building doesn't have 100% utilization of parking.

But a majority of stakeholders in the neighborhood refuse to acknowledge this.

Similarly, a resident of the Takoma cohousing project pointed out that when the building opened, it had 100% parking utilization, no spaces for guests, etc. But over time, they added 40% more residents, but have shed 20% of the cars. There are extra spaces now, and no household has more than one car when originally many had two, etc.

The Belvedere at 13th and Mass. was reported to have 80% of residents using Metro. Etc.

by Richard Layman on Dec 5, 2013 11:56 am • linkreport

I think this all boils down to this.

It's what's gonna happen. So deal with it. Don't like it? Thats your prerogative, but much like the Arlington naysayers of 30 years ago, when the traffic is lighter and you car only SOVs actually see reductions in congestion, atleast be courteous enough to recognize you were wrong oh so many years ago.

Transit doesn't have to be accessible to everyone in order to benefit everyone, just like a new bridge crossing wouldn't have to be accessible to everyone in order for it to have some improvement on the road network.

Your argument is flawed because you fail to recognize that by removing thousands of people on the road, your drive also gets better.

PS I live in a car light household in Tysons and the metro isn't even here yet. My wife buses to WFC because its quicker than when she used to drive. Shes a 20 something making tons of money as am I (and I have bused on several occasions as well)

Anecdote vs anecdote I win 2 to 1. So deal

by Navid Roshan on Dec 5, 2013 4:20 pm • linkreport

Thanks for sharing your income levels with the board. Can judge a lot by a sample size of three.

Not opposed to buses. However, I am not going to take a bus (for many reasons).

My point is if you want to make the most out of the transist system, amble parking at stations are a must.

by Hondo on Dec 5, 2013 4:27 pm • linkreport

The charge of social engineering is not unfair. Of course, the counter is that the enormous investment in car-oriented transportation systems was also social engineering. As evidenced by anyone who turns their nose up at riding a bus.

In a generation, we are likely to have a very different looking Tysons. I, for one, will not be especially nostalgic for the Tysons of today.

by Crickey7 on Dec 5, 2013 4:41 pm • linkreport

My point is if you want to make the most out of the transist system, amble parking at stations are a must.

A: There will be parking at the silver line. Just not at the stations in Tysons.
B: there is a limit to how much you can effectively provide. Parking has costs (money and opportunity) and eventually runs into the law of diminishing returns.
C: To get the most out of transit in Tysons you don't want lots of people driving through tysons just to park at metro. Tyson's is already a center and that's how the Silver Line is designed. It's like if we built lots of parking around all of the downtown DC stations. What's the point of transit if we're all driving anyway?

by drumz on Dec 5, 2013 4:46 pm • linkreport

"Can judge a lot by a sample size of three. "

You've given us a sample size of one.

"Not opposed to buses. However, I am not going to take a bus (for many reasons)."

Then you are going to have to deal with driving from EFC to Tysons, or find somewhere else to live, or get up earlier.

"My point is if you want to make the most out of the transist system, amble parking at stations are a must."

Theres a huge new garage in reston east that will open with phase 1 of the SL. FFX will be building new garages at herndon and innovation stations. I think LoCo will be building garages at their two stations.

But there isnt going to be ample parking at every station, and at some you will get more people into transit, per dollar of subsidy expended, by funding buses than by subsidizing garages.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 5, 2013 4:54 pm • linkreport

Don't tell me we have to put streetcars throughout McLean just because white people won't ride the bus.

by Crickey7 on Dec 5, 2013 5:05 pm • linkreport

Gee, I wish somebody, somewhere, examined the transportation characteristics of people who lived in buildings in Northern Virginia near transit. If only policy could be made based on statistically significant surveys, rather than anecdotes...

by Payton on Dec 6, 2013 11:36 am • linkreport

@payton their response will be that those are just hipsters being hipsters or some other irrelevant gesture of dismissal.

People living in transportation, making thousands of little choices ending up in daily commute patterns for a region. Ultimately the decision tree comes down to access(yes or no)/time/money and when the first is yes, and the 2nd is better than SOV, then eventually the trends start showing lower VMT.

Its obvious to me, its "pie in the sky" to the haters

by Navid Roshan on Dec 6, 2013 4:12 pm • linkreport

Days later, I'm sure no one will read this, but I'm wondering about what Metro could design around the existing structure to reduce noise, even though the line is elevated. If there were a way to basically enclose the rail system or at least minimize the noise, it might even be attractive to build office and residential buildings very, very close to the line -- like, across the street close. Proximity to the rail line would be an attraction rather than a disruption.

by Fischy (Ed F.) on Dec 8, 2013 4:05 pm • linkreport

@ Fischy

Why do they need something to reduce noise, you have buidlings nearby Noma, Rhode Island Ave, Ft Totten, Brookland, Takoma, King Street, Hunington, Silver Spring, & Twinbrook.

by kk on Dec 8, 2013 10:33 pm • linkreport

Hey, how's that bicycle doing this week? Ready for a nice walk across Tysons in next year's "polar vortices" or a bike ride through next summer's subtropical downpours? Switch from Nordstrom to REI for business wear?

by Anonymous Walker on Jan 23, 2014 4:02 pm • linkreport

Does the Capitol Building subway system connect to Metro, possibly at that Capitol South station? Would be a great way to reduce driving/parking by people working at the Capitol.

by DaveG on May 29, 2014 8:47 am • linkreport

Add a Comment

Name: (will be displayed on the comments page)

Email: (must be your real address, but will be kept private)

URL: (optional, will be displayed)

Your comment:

By submitting a comment, you agree to abide by our comment policy.
Notify me of followup comments via email. (You can also subscribe without commenting.)
Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.

or