News and notes from Reston (tm).

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

RTC Partialpaidparkingpocalypse Now: Boston Properties Backs Off On Paid Parking, Makes First Hour, Evenings Free (Updated)

Facing lawsuits, a loss of goodwill and foot traffic (with one exception), confused astronauts, and general embarrassment over its ham-handed implementation, Boston Properties has backed off slightly on its awesome paid parking initiative at our favorite fake downtown "stressful city-like shopping center." Starting next week, the first hour of parking at RTC will be free, and so are evenings after 5 and (as has always been the case) weekends. Um, yay?

Let's hear the elite crisis managers earn their retainer:

Based on a study of traffic patterns and behaviors as well as retailer input--
We think that was loud and clear.
--Boston Properties identified that one hour of free parking and free parking after 5 p.m. would address the primary concerns expressed by the community while still supporting the original goals of paid parking: protecting the parking rights of RTC tenants and visitors and augmenting revenue dedicated to community reinvestment.
"Community reinvestment?" LOL.

The change is long overdue, and good on BPX for recognizing the damage they've already done and manning shoppingcentering up. But it's still not ideal -- people will still be rushing through their midscale chain lunches to avoid getting ticketed, something that could have been easily addressed by making two hours free. And while they're making changes to the parking kiosks, the ever-popular ParkRTC app has yet to be tossed onto the ashheap of smartphone detritus with the likes of Angry Birds and Draw Something. In fact, you need it even to get your one hour of free parking before 5pm. But haters gonna hate, revenue's gotta be augmented, and crisis managers gotta eat, amirite?

But be warned: On-street parking is still paid at all times. Or, as the crisis managers put it:

To ensure convenient parking for RTC retail customers, there will be no changes to the existing street parking structure.
Translation: The bumblebee isn't going back in dry storage just yet.

Update: According to this fancy online poll, fewer than 1 in 5 people think that Boston Properties have made this right. The rest are almost evenly split between thinking 2-3 hours of free parking is more appropriate and wanting parking free at all times (not gonna happen).

Also, this insightful comment:

To understand Boston Properties' debacle with paid parking, take 3:45 minutes to watch this video from 2011 of Reston business and civic leaders praising Boston Properties for embracing Reston's community concept and ethic.

Boston Properties had been one of the shining regional examples of how to blend community with development. But early last year, something changed within the company. Some tone-deaf company executives decided on a bone-headed plan to charge for weekday and weeknight parking at a town center where parking had been free for 25 years. From the start, the plan was ill-conceived, drawing the company needlessly in a fight with the same community that had praised it for years. Among other things, the company failed to consider the impact of fees on low-wage workers, forcing BP to backpedal. The company announced the fees without first informing its tenants, leading to lawsuits and ill will. The company failed to gauge community sentiment, and make itself available to the public to explain its reasoning. Worst of all, the company failed--until now-- to consider a reasonable compromise to allow some free parking on weekdays and weeknights. It has been a textbook public relations fiasco from the start, and may take years for Boston Properties to restore its reputation in Reston.


  1. Don't forget that during the day, you still have to "start your session" with the app or kiosk, even if you're there for less than an hour. So what's the point, really?

    Also, maybe the "parking ambassadors" will have something better to do now, like keep an eye out for problems like the armed robbery earlier this week.

  2. I tried it this week. As mentioned above, no need for the stupid app, and if there for under an hour, no need for cash at the kiosk..simply a quick typing of your license plate, select 0-1 hour, get receipt. If they extend for two hours free, most people will be fine. If they do 3 hours, all is forgiven.

  3. On me bride's birthday we had a lovely supper at Cafe Montmartre at Lake Anne. Sorry Passion Fish. RTC has lost my business. Relaxing the odious parking is not enough. What will RTC merchants do to win back my business?


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