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City of Austin green lights more affordable parking for downtown workers

Austin green lights more affordable parking for downtown workers

Sixth Street downtown Austin SXSW police security safety barriers March 2016
The City of Austin wants to make it easier for downtown's industry pros to find parking. Photo by Nicole Raney

In an effort to get Austin's hospitality and tourist professionals to work — and alleviate downtown traffic — the City of Austin switched on the next phase of its Affordable Parking Program.

Beginning July 30, the city, in partnership with the Downtown Austin Alliance, is expanding the number of parking spaces available to industry workers from 200 to 500 spaces in and around downtown's entertainment hubs. 

Permit applications for the new parking spaces are open now, and range in fees from $35-$65 per month at the following garages:

  • State of Texas Garage N — 300 San Antonio St.
  • Waller Creek Center Garage —  625 E. 10th St.
  • One Texas Center Garage — 505 Barton Springs Rd.
  • City Hall Garage — 301 W. Second St.

As Austin continues to attract tourists, those who keep that industry running — everyone from bartenders to hotel concierges — are increasingly priced out of the downtown districts in which they work. This initiative is designed to help with the price discrepancy, while also alleviating traffic from city streets.  

“Studies have shown that, on average, 30 percent of the cars in downtown traffic are looking for parking,” Dewitt Peart, president and chief executive officer of the Downtown Austin Alliance, said in a release. “Having enough convenient, available parking spaces is critical to keeping traffic flowing as downtown continues to grow. It’s also crucial to keeping the economy going, as parking options help attract people to work, eat, and shop downtown.”

In order to secure one of the passes, an applicant most prove he or she is employed in the entertainment or service industries and work downtown. Once approved, the card grants access to the chosen garage, and parking is available on a first-come, first-served basis. 

The program is part of the city's Downtown Parking Strategy, a multi-step initiative to change the city's parking structure to something that's, well, a little more spot on. The plan began its rollout in late 2017 by first identifying off-street parking available to the public (such as the garages above) and refiguring current on-street parking spots to accommodate more vehicles.