Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

South Congress rolls out new paid parking system

Leila Saidane
The south end of the state Capitol on Congress Ave., on March 23, 2023.

South Congress Avenue implemented a mobile paid parking system in September in an effort to improve parking issues on Austin’s iconic street.

Joseph Al-hajeri, Austin’s mobility demand program manager, said the city aims to manage curb space and make the street available to all modes of transport with hopes of bringing more visitors to the area.

“Unmanaged curb space really creates challenges, not only just for people trying to visit the area, but residents that live there,” Al-hajeri said. “When you start to manage the curb, you unlock the uses for those that cannot use a vehicle or other options for people to interact with the curb a lot faster so that they can get in and out.”

Many students on campus, such as sociology freshman Madison Padilla, take advantage of alternate forms of transportation to get to South Congress, including the bus.

“I love the vibe of South Congress because there’s so many cute stores and boutiques,” Padilla said. “(Getting there by bus) was pretty simple. I just use the maps. It’s pretty self-explanatory. The ride was 20 minutes maximum.”

According to a study conducted from 2019 to 2020 by the City of Austin and Downtown Austin Alliance, even though only 50% of people drive to South Congress in a private vehicle, people still struggle to find parking. 

“My friends usually drive but it’s like, ‘Okay, turn the music down. Let’s navigate. Let’s try to find parking,’” said Ruby Walker, a radio-television-film freshman. “Parking itself is kind of hard to know where to pay and everything because there’s the QR codes now.”

The recently installed parking system does not use pay stations, only road signs with phone numbers and QR codes used to pay. Al-hajeri said they have tested this new form of payment and have accommodations for all, including a hotline and text-to-pay.

“We’ve been working internally with stakeholders like our digital inclusion group and understanding what benefits or what other options are out there for people,” Al-hajeri said. “We have a text-to-pay feature that (if) you don’t have a smartphone, you can use that option as well.”

The paid parking isn’t just for a quick turnover of parking spaces in the area, Al-hajeri said. The cost of the paid parking is going back into South Congress to make further transportation improvements. 

“51% of those funds go back into a capital asset account for the district to use,” Al-hajeri said. “That can be used on upgrading sidewalks, lighting, transportation subsidies for employees or (transportation demand management) options, to help the area grow. We hope to really encourage and educate people more to our city services through this process as we continue.”

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About the Contributor
Leila Saidane, Photo Editor
Leila Saidane is a junior from Dallas, Texas, studying Radio-TV-Film and Journalism. Her words and photos have been published in The Texas Tribune, The Austin Chronicle, The Austin American-Statesman and The Dallas Morning News.