Montgomery County residents and visitors would pay more for parking and bus fare under County Executive Ike Leggett's proposed budget for next year.
Leggett proposes increasing parking rates in Bethesda and Silver Spring and charging for parking on Saturdays in Bethesda, Silver Spring and Wheaton. The rate increases would apply to four-hour parking meters, monthly passes and daily and carpool passes.
Fiscal 2013 would be the second year in a three-year plan to raise parking rates in Bethesda and Silver Spring. The increases would help the county cover the costs of maintaining the parking facilities, said county spokeswoman Esther Bowring.
|A sample of the proposed changes|
|Current cost Proposed cost|
|Parking in Bethesda|
|Short-term meters||$1 per hour||No change|
|Long-term meters (more than four hours)||$0.75 per hour||$0.85 per hour|
|Garage 49 daily maximum||$12.25||$13.35|
|Parking convenience sticker||$140 per month||$160 per month|
|Daily parking permit||$11.25||$12.75|
|Parking in Silver Spring|
|Short-term meters||$0.75 per hour||No Change|
|Long-term meters (more than four hours)||$0.60 per hour||$0.70 per hour|
|Parking convenience sticker||$113 per month||$132 per month|
|Daily parking permit||$7.20||$8.40|
The parking fee increases would become effective as of July 1 in Bethesda and Jan. 1 in Silver Spring. The Saturday parking fees would begin Oct. 1.
The proposal also includes fare increases for all Montgomery County Ride On users. Riders paying with cash would pay $2, up from $1.70, and SmarTrip carriers would pay $1.60, up from $1.50. The increases are intended to match proposed Metrobus fare increases, Bowring said.
Ride On monthly passes would increase from $40 to $45. Senior fares and transfer charges also would be raised under the proposal.
If all the changes are approved, the fee and fare increases would raise $3.6 million in annual revenues, about $3 million of which would come from parking, according to Jennifer Hughes, director of the county's Office of Management and Budget.
Increasing Ride On fares targets the county's lowest-income earners, said Tina Slater, president of the Action Committee for Transit.
"If he wants to encourage the use of public transportation, why would he up Ride On fares?" asked Joan Fidler, president of the Montgomery County Taxpayers League. "It just seems like a ploy to get more revenue."
The fare hike would be an unwelcome burden, said Wheaton resident Nohra Genies, who does not own a car and has to ride two buses every morning and evening to get to and from work.
The parking increases could be damaging to the local economy, Fidler said, warning that people might avoid patronizing restaurants in Bethesda or Silver Spring on Saturdays if they have to pay for parking.
Although the Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce opposed similar parking fee increases last year, President Jane Redicker said the organization has not reviewed the new proposal.
In addition to Leggett's proposal, the County Council has asked the public to weigh in on other possible parking fee changes, such as extending parking enforcement hours in Silver Spring to 10 p.m., increasing parking fees in Wheaton, increasing parking fees outside of parking districts, raising the residential parking permit fee and offering a discounted residential parking permit.
The council has scheduled a public hearing for April 24.