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baylor Aug 23rd, 2009 02:19 PM

D.C. extended on-street downtown parking?
Which areas of downtown Washington DC can I safely leave a car parked on the street for 6 straight days? (Thurs morn. 9/3 thru Tues night 9/8) I'll need to leave my car in DC while I take the Chinatown bus to NYC. Or perhaps I will find less trouble by parking close by a Metro station & Metro-ing to where my bus departs. If so, which Metro station can I park near for these days? (Ideally a station that's not too too far from downtown.) But I might consider a far-away station. Can I safely leave a car in the Pentagon lot for these days. And does anyone have any reports on Apex Bus from DC to NYC?

MikeT Aug 23rd, 2009 03:22 PM

There is nowhere in downtown DC where you can park your car for six days, without paying for a lot. It's not about safety, it's about getting your car towed. Parking is at a premium and people who don't live in a certain neighborhood can't park for days.

You could park at a Metro lot, but again, you are going to have to pay. The lots that allow long-term parking are Greenbelt, Huntington, and Franconia-Springfield. Check out the WMATA website. You can't park at the Pentagon, since it reserved parking.

I'm not a fan of the Chinatown buses (Apex is one). I'd go with one of the bigger names--Bolt or Mega.

Christina Aug 24th, 2009 12:27 PM

You'd have to find some neighborhood without residential parking restrictions, which wouldn't be downtown DC. I used to live on Capitol Hill and there were no residential stickers required on my street then (which was around 3rd and A St NE. It was only about five blocks from Union Station or Capitol South metros. I don't know the current situation, but you didn't need them for a lot of Capitol Hill area (meaning roughtly anything East of the Capitol Bldg/Supreme Court. I don't know about the safety angle, I never left my car untouched for that long. The problem is they tend to have restrictions on parking in neighborhoods closest to metro stations, of course. I think there are restrictions around Friendship Heights a lot, and Cleveland Park. Maybe something outside DC would have fewer restrictions, don't know -- at least closer to a metro station. Only suburban residential neighborhoods would likely have no parking restrictions on time (eg, many only allow two hours before 8 pm or something like that) and not require a sticker. I live in Takoma Park and there are definitely places on the street you could park without needing a sticker and with no time limitation (at least, nothing like only two hours before 7 pm), but there are laws in general that a car can't be left untouched on a street for a certain time, so someone could report it and get it towed. I'm not sure the time on that law -- maybe a week, which would work for you.

I think there are residential streets in the blocks in DC west of Takoma Park station like that, but I wouldn't want to bet on your car being there when you got back, ha ha

vjpblovesitaly Aug 24th, 2009 12:36 PM

Maybe you should consider the economy lot at DCA. It is $10 max per 24 hours. Which direction are you coming from?

Christina Aug 24th, 2009 12:38 PM

I just read that in DC, if someone reports your car abandoned, they don't tow it for at least 48 hours, so that might work for you (I doubt it someone would report a car as abandoned until it hadn't moved at least several days). I'm not sure about the resident permit situation, not that I think about it, on Capitol Hill. At least in the areas closest to the metro stations. I'm sure there must be some blocks where it isn't required, but maybe I did have one and just forget where I lived.

Jess_M Aug 25th, 2009 08:46 AM

As a frequent traveler between DC and NYC, I've tried more budget bus companies than I can keep track of.

Chinatown buses like Apex or New Century can be hit or miss: they offer a little less seat/leg room, are often very poorly managed and disorganized (I've booked tickets and then shown up 20 minutes before departure to find the bus was full and took off already, and I've sat waiting for a bus to depart for 3 hours before it finally took off), and they aren't always the cleanest/freshest smelling ways to travel.

Since there are a number of low-cost buses running between DC and NYC, I'd recommend going with a better-organized company. Bolt Bus (, MegaBus (, and Vamoose ( are three of the most reliable.

If you have a car that you want to park somewhere while you're gone, you might consider Vamoose, because it picks up and drops off in Arlington, VA (in Rosslyn if you're familiar with the area) and Bethesda, MD. You might have better luck finding parking in one of these suburbs and then taking the easy metro ride into DC. Vamoose is a little bit more expensive (usually about $5 more each way) and doesn't offer quite as options with departure times, but it is very reliable and well-run.

Bolt and MegaBus are the two I use the most often. Both have Wi-Fi (though only Bolt bus has outlets for every seat), and both leave from/arrive at Penn Station in NYC (Bolt also stops in Chinatown if that's more convenient). They drop you off in DC near the Gallery Place/Chinatown station, so you could feasibly park at DCA like vjpblovesitaly suggests and then take the Yellow metro line in.

Bolt Bus is my personal favorite because I've always had good luck with it, and I really like having an outlet for my laptop or iPod or whatever. Both Bolt and Mega offer sliding pricing scales, so if you have flexibility in your travel dates/times, you can sometimes get a ticket for $10 each way. With Bolt, the earlier you book your ticket, the higher boarding class you're placed in, so if you book earlier than other passengers, they'll let you on the bus to pick a seat first - a nice option if you're traveling with friends!

A good new resource for bus travel in general is It acts as kind of a for bus travel.

Just keep in mind that you do get what you pay for with these budget buses. While Vamoose, Bolt, and Mega are generally clean and well-run, I have had instances where a driver gets lost, or where the internet doesn't work. You also hear the horror stories about Chinatown buses breaking down on the side of the road and not getting any help for hours. But I've made over 50 trips on these budget buses, and overall I think they're a much better value than the train!

baylor Aug 26th, 2009 02:31 PM

thanks all for your kind assistance. I am coming from the south up I-95. Springfield/Franconia parking or DCA longterm sounds like the wisest places to leave my car. It's a '97 station wagon with no cargo showing that wouldn't presumeably scream "break into me!" I was hoping to find a spot with 10-20 blocks of Chinatown DC with free safe on-street parking. That seems not likely.

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