December 2, 2004

I Saw the Sign*
(and Some Other Things Too)

Last week I pulled into the parking garage at the Metro station and again saw the sign: Parking $3.75

Three dollars and seventy-five cents!

Damn. If memory serves, less than a year ago it was but $2.25. Yes I was aware the price had gone up. But every time I see that sign I feel irritation. Plus it used to be if you left the garage before 2:30 in the afternoon or after 10:00 at night, you didn't have to pay. Now if the station is open, you have to pay no matter what time you depart.

Another fairly recent change (which I resisted and moaned about only because change is evil! evil I say!) was the requirement to have a SmartCard to pay for parking. A SmartCard resembles a credit card that a rider can put funds on to pay for Metro fares and parking. With the adventent of the SmartCard, no longer would there be an attendant in the booth to take your cash. Parking lot attendants had evidently been stealing (stealing is bad! bad I say!) and therefore were eliminated from the system.

Metro charges $5 for the actual SmartCard itself. After you pay your $5, then you can load additional funds on it to pay for Metro services. Think about that. You must have one to use the parking facilities, yet the only way to get one is to buy it. So parking for a one-time visitor to a Metro station actually costs $8.75. And this is tourist-country, Our Nation's Capital.

Anyway. I have conformed out of necessity and am now a SmartCard owner. As it turned out, an odd series of events and my personal miscalculation resulted in a very late night educational conversation with the Temporary Roving Metro Parking Lot "Yes It Is Well After Midnight But You Must Pay And No You Can't Use Cash And I Can't Really Help You Go Buy A SmartCard" Fellow. That night Wendy purchased the SmartCard that has since become mine.

And oh oh oh! How I adore my SmartCard! I load my SmartCard up with funds right from my debit card. No more dealing with paper farecards and digging for change to pay for parking. It's actually a fantastic convenience. Why did I ever resist?

* anyone else remember Ace of Base and their song of this title? I liked it when it came out and still do.


Suzanne said...

Hey now, Jack!
$3.75 is a lot!
Well.... okay, maybe not a lot.
But it still bugs me. :)

Eyes for Lies said...

Park in Chicago for a day. Your jaw will drop. If I remember, seven years ago a day of parking in downtown cost you $8-12 bucks!! No joke.

When we moved and visited our nearby smaller city (in comparison), we fell over laughing that you could park for $2.50 a day!! We thought it was incredible!!

Suzanne said...

I expect to pay high prices to park in the city. When I go to DC, my usual garage costs me $13 for two hours or the whole day.

But this is the suburbs. Where they paved an acre of so of land, put up a fence, and now charge people so they can have access to and make use of public transportation.

Just irritates me. Yes, yes it does.

Robin said...

I remember that song too! Never knew what it was about but the tune was rather unforgettable. A song likely to get stuck in your head for days!