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WMATA proposes conversion to fully automated, cashless parking system

After an internal parking operations and revenue collection audit raised suspicions that some employees at Penn Parking — Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) contracted parking operator — were pocketing cash parking fares, the authority has proposed implementing a cashless parking system by July 1.

Passengers would pay daily parking fees with a SmarTrip card; currently, 71 percent of customers use their smart card to pay for parking. WMATA would eliminate all parking lot cashiers, and install additional SmarTrip-operated fare gates and SmarTrip vending machines in parking garages.

If it switches to a SmarTrip-only parking system, WMATA would pay $1.2 million in salaries for 18 positions necessary to convert the current system, and $4.1 million to initiate and award a contract for a cashless parking lot.

If the authority fully automates its parking facilities, it would terminate its contract with Penn Parking, saving WMATA $2.8 million annually.

WMATA also would expand payment hours from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. to 9 a.m. to close Monday through Friday. Weekend parking would remain free. The payment hour expansion is expected to generate an additional $2.5 million revenue in fiscal-year 2005.

The board is expected to vote on the proposal at its March 18 meeting.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/12/2004