East Falls Church has fullest spaces
Finding a parking spot at some Metro stations can mean circling the garage like a vulture in search of roadkill.
The daily commuter crush means that six Metro stations have more people parking in them than they have spaces, and half a dozen more are nearly 100 percent full every day, according to Metro statistics from July to December of last year.
|Metro parking madness|
|Stuffed full||July to December 2012|
|1. East Falls Church||120%*||Orange Line|
|2. Van Dorn||109%||Blue Line|
|3. Fort Totten||108%||Red/Green Line|
|4. West Falls Church||103%||Orange Line|
|5. Rockville||102%||Red Line|
|6. Rhode Island Ave.||101%||Red Line|
|7. Naylor Road||99%||Green Line|
|8. Tie: Grosvenor/Vienna||98%||Red Line/Orange Line|
|9. Forest Glen||97%||Red Line|
|10. Branch Ave||95%||Green Line|
|*Percentages more than 100 mean that more people are parking there than the station has spaces, indicating that some drivers may leave midday, and others take their spot, so that two cars shared one space during the day.|
|Most empty spaces||July to December 2012|
|1. Wheaton||32%||Red Line|
|2. Tie: Prince George's|
|Plaza/Landover||44%||Green Line/Orange Line|
|3. White Flint||46%||Red Line|
|4. Deanwood||48%||Orange Line|
|5. Twinbrook||57%||Red Line|
|6. College Park||59%||Green Line|
|7. Southern Ave||66%||Green Line|
|8. Glenmont||73%||Red Line|
|9. Franconia||76%||Blue Line|
|10. Capitol Heights||77%||Blue Line|
East Falls Church topped the list of stuffed stations, typically filling up at 7:30 a.m. every day. And once it's full, even the cars that leave later in the day get replaced quickly, giving the station a 120 percent usage rate.
Van Dorn, Fort Totten, West Falls Church, Rockville and Rhode Island Ave. also had more parkers than spaces.
Metro rider Andrew Bossi's commute has him driving out of the Rockville station -- which has a 102 percent use rate -- just as most morning commuters are pulling in. The parking facility is so packed that some morning drivers recognize and follow him to nab his spot as he leaves.
"As soon as they see me exiting the station into the [parking] lot some will drive straight to my car and wait for me to leave to get that front spot," he said.
Metro's Greenbelt lot, which has 3,399 spaces, typically doesn't fill up every day. But the lot is so large that those who don't snatch a close-by spot can have a long walk to the station.
"It's usually not full. But it can be a three-fourths of a mile walk from where I park to the station," said Frank DeBernardo, a member of Metro's Riders' Advisory Council.
Demand for East Falls Church spots could get even worse when the Silver Line opens. Metro's Rosslyn tunnel will be so busy that the agency will have to run fewer trains from the west end of the Orange Line, so Virginia riders will see more frequent trains if they come to East Falls Church, where the Orange and Silver Lines will meet.
"People are probably going to try to go out of their way to park there," said Ben Ball, chairman of riders' council. "It's only going to fill up faster when the Silver Line goes on."
But the percentage of Metro parking spaces used actually declined from 2011 to 2012, from 83 percent in the last six months of 2011 to 79 percent in the last six months of 2012.
That's because Metro had fewer riders after its fare increase last July, when the transit benefit offered to federal employees also declined.
"Parking is linked to ridership -- and the factors that influence ridership also apply to parking," Metro spokesman Philip Stewart said.
One station had more parkers but also more empty spaces --Glenmont, where officials opened a new garage containing 1,200 more spaces in April.