Disabled drivers might again pay to park at D.C. meters

|
Photo - Disabled drivers in the District may soon after to pay to park at city parking meters. (Graeme Jennings/Examiner photo)
Disabled drivers in the District may soon after to pay to park at city parking meters. (Graeme Jennings/Examiner photo)
Local,DC,Transportation,Liz Essley

The District is considering whether to restart its controversial program that charges disabled drivers for parking, but it could be months before the program is back online.

D.C. Council members this week will re-examine the Red Top Meter program, which they halted in March, after advocates for people with disabilities complained the program was discriminatory and came without warning.

The District Department of Transportation released its final report on the program late last month, promising a public awareness campaign before restarting the red-top enforcement. The report also proposed charging disabled drivers a reduced rate of 75 cents per hour.

The red-top meters would be reserved for drivers with disabled placards or tags and allow them to park for twice the time of normal meters. But disabled drivers would no longer be able to park in any space in the city for free, as they do now. That's unfair to disabled drivers, advocates said earlier this year, since they're usually on a fixed income and have a difficult time navigating city parking anyway.

But DDOT insisted the program was necessary to combat fraud, saying people were obtaining out-of-state disabled placards and then using them to get free parking in D.C., even if they weren't disabled.

A council committee will review DDOT's report this week and may give the agency the green light to restart red-top enforcement.

But DDOT has promised disabled advocates that it will have all 1,800 red-top meters installed before it restarts the program, and so far it has only 800 in the ground. The agency would also need to fix some of the signs on existing meters, as well as kick off its five-week ad campaign.

Agency spokeswoman Monica Hernandez didn't know how long that would take.

"We want to make sure that when this program moves forward, at that time that we're ready to pretty much have it in place for the public to use, that we're doing it right, that we have the meters installed, that our signage is correct, that we have the additional outreach efforts out in the community," she said.

lessley@washingtonexaminer.com

View article comments Leave a comment