Zilker Park to add more pay stations in lots currently free

The Austin Parks and Recreation Department is adding more automated parking pay stations on March 27.

The parking lots near Stratford Drive, north of Zilker Botanical Garden, and the south Barton Springs Pool lot near Azie Morton Road will have pay stations like the rest of the park. They will be activated on May 1. 

Seasonal paid parking at all other Zilker Park areas began on March 1 and will continue through Labor Day. Payment is only required on weekends, holidays, and special events. Starting May 1, the fee will be $7, up from $5 between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.

There will also be a free summer weekend and holiday shuttle every 20 minutes to Zilker from the One Texas Center parking garage at 505 Barton Springs Road. It is anticipated to run Memorial Day to Labor Day, with specific dates to be confirmed in the coming weeks.

People at Barton Springs share their reactions to the additional pay stations. 

"I'm not happy about that. I don't think that's going to benefit congestion, I don't see how it would," Natalie Morales said. "I'd figure it out. I'd make a friend with somebody who's got a house over there."

"On one side, it's kind of frustrating that it's going to be more expensive to come to Barton Springs," Lula Weller said. "I've definitely parked in the grass and gotten tickets before, and I wonder if it might be a good thing, because it would make it less packed, it would deter people that don't really want to pay for it."

"I probably wouldn't pay it, I'd probably figure out some way to get around it," Nelson Smith said.

The parking stations aren't new, they're a continuation of a project.

The Parks and Recreation says in a release:

"In 2016, the Parks and Recreation Department began installing pay stations to increase efficiency in Zilker Park parking lots by reducing both traffic congestion and operating expenses. After installation at most parking areas, the Department paused installation before the parking lot at Azie Morton Road and Stratford Road. Since that time, parking challenges in these two lots have increased, leading to a need for consistency across the park for parking."

The city says the park-goers can expect consistent rules and enforcement.

"A lot of Austin's becoming paid parking in a lot of places, so I'd say I'm not in favor of it," Smith said.

The city recently approved a South Congress paid parking plan.

"Just let people park, let the people who live here enjoy their time here without having to pay for every last inch of it," Morales said.

The Parks and Recreation Department says the parking fees will go towards park improvements like safety initiatives, lighting, and future electric vehicle stations.