Red-Top Meters Make Motorists See Red


Those red-top parking meters which have popped up around town and across the city have everyone confused, including handicapped drivers, the ones for whom they’ve been installed. The special meter program is meant to ensure that on-street parking is accessible to residents and visitors with disabilities, who would have to pay for parking. (Currently, those with a proper handicapped parking placard may park for free in any metered spot with no time restrictions.)

In two years’ time, the District Department of Transportation has installed about 1,200 red-top meters. But the special spots, near corners and popular venues, are not ready for prime time. For one thing, the restrictions that go with them are not yet in effect.

Says DDOT: The red-top meter program is not currently being enforced. Anyone can park at a red-top meter. Persons with disability placards or tags do not have to pay. When the program rolls out, then only individuals with disability placards and tags can park at red-top meters and they will have to pay.”

Along with criticism from the District Council – and despite legislation that halts the program – DDOT officials admit that the rush to install the meters at the end of Mayor Vincent Gray’s term led to over-the-top red-tops in certain neighborhoods.

“One of the reasons there are so many meters clustered together in a confusing and illogical way is that there was just an overall goal to install 1,200 and to hit a number,” DDOT’s new acting director, Leif Dormsjo, told the Washington Times. “So that led to a whole bunch of perverse outcomes. . . . The best way to handle this is to start to clean up the most egregious examples of where we’ve got too many meters concentrated in the same area.”

Let’s rub out some of these red-top meters, get the program right or don’t do it at all. And let’s hope that Mayor Muriel Bowser – who appears to be settling in as a no-nonsense administrator – clips other programs that were rushed and wasted taxpayer money. Future programs will be launched, one hopes, with better planning and more public discussion.

Meanwhile, it’s time to end the confusion. For now, anyone may park at a red-top meter. Just remember you still have to pay.


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