Parking in downtown Austin: Where to park, how to pay meters and dispute parking tickets

Austin
Parking meter in downtown Austin (KXAN Photo/Jaclyn Ramkissoon)

Parking meter in downtown Austin (KXAN Photo/Jaclyn Ramkissoon)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Parking can be difficult to figure out in any city. Austin is no different. If you’re looking to spend some time downtown, here are things you need to know about finding parking, paying meters, disputing parking citations and reserving spots. 

What type of parking is offered in Austin?

In addition to private business lots, on-street metered parking is available in downtown Austin, parts of east Austin, the Mueller area and parts of central Austin along Lavaca and Guadalupe Streets, just to name a few areas. The City of Austin has a detailed map online outlining on-street parking areas and their specific schedules by day.

It’s always good to pay attention to signs and at what times parking spots are available for public use. Parking meters are not enforced on New Year’s Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving or Christmas. 

  • Parking sign in downtown Austin (KXAN Photo/Jaclyn Ramkissoon)
  • A parking meter and zone sign in downtown Austin (KXAN Photo/Jaclyn Ramkissoon)

Austin also offers a couple of parking lots, managed by Austin Transportation. Other city-owned lots may be managed by other city departments.

  • I-35 Parking Lot – mobile payment only
  • MoPac Parking Lot by Stephen F. Austin High School
  • Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center Parking Lot

The City of Austin is not in charge of parking on the University of Texas campus or at the State Capitol Complex. 

How to pay for a spot using the Park ATX app

Instead of using parking meters, you can opt to use the Park ATX app to reserve and pay for on-street parking. 

When you open the app, it will ask if you want to start a new parking session. Upon initiating a new session, it will then ask which parking zone you are located in. 

You can find out your parking zone number by looking at nearby signs or meters. The signs will list out a five-digit number. The app will also auto-populate nearby zone numbers if you have your location-based services turned on.

Once you select or enter your parking zone number, it will ask you for your license plate number. This is how Austin officials keep track of cars parked in city spots. Instead of printing a parking slip to display in your windshield, they’ll be able to look up your license plate number to verify your spot reservation. 

Using the slider at the bottom, you will then choose how long you want to stay in that spot.

Click ‘continue’ then ‘confirm payment’ to reserve your spot. 

In some locations, the app will require you to use your “City of Austin Wallet” as your payment option, rather than a credit or debit card. This is an in-app wallet, which you can load money into, then in turn use that money to pay for parking. 

On-street parking starts at $2 for the first two hours, then goes up to $3 for the third hour. 

  • This is a screenshot of what the Park ATX app looks like when you first open it.
  • This is where you select the zone in which you are parked in to reserve your spot. The zone is usually five numbers long and is listed on a nearby parking meter or sign in blue and white.
  • Using the green slider at the bottom of the screen, you'll be able to choose how long you want to use your parking spot for.
  • This is what it looks like when you've successfully booked a parking session with the Park ATX app.
  • This is a sidebar menu where you can make changes to your account, add a payment option or add a car license plate number for easy access.
  • This is what the app looks like in the App Store for iPhone.

You can download the Park ATX app through the App Store for Apple or on Google Play for Android

Alternatively, you can use Google’s Pay for Parking feature online. Once you head over to the website, click ‘start new session.’ The process is similar to the Park ATX app. 

Paying through a meter

You can still use a pay station or meter to pay for parking. The process is similar to the Park ATX app where you enter your license plate number, so officials can keep track of your reservation. Only card or coin payments are accepted; you cannot use bills. 

Booking parking through a private company

Parking garages and lots are oftentimes managed by a private company. Here’s a list of companies operating in the downtown area and their contact information. All companies offer interactive maps on their websites that show you current available parking. 

Premium Parking – This company offers dozens of parking options in the downtown area, especially in walking distance of 6th Street. A map on its website outlines where active parking options are at the moment and at what rates spots are going for. Customer Service: (844) 236-2011. 

Premium Parking lot in downtown Austin at 308 Guadalupe Street (KXAN Photo/Jaclyn Ramkissoon)
Premium Parking lot in downtown Austin at 308 Guadalupe Street (KXAN Photo/Jaclyn Ramkissoon)

Parking.com – This company offers more than nine parking options in Austin, according to its website. You can browse daily and monthly parking rates. The company also has a mobile app to search for parking. Customer Service: (512) 474-1530

Premier Parking – This company offers several garage options downtown, as well as reserving parking for a specific venue and/or event in Austin. You can choose to create an account or sign in as a guest for your parking session. Customer Service: (866) 330-7275.

LAZ Parking – You can reserve hourly and monthly parking through this company. The company warns you before paying that ‘all sales are final.’ The company will ask for your name, email address and license plate number. 

Spot Hero – This is a reservation service that partners with facilities to offer parking. Spot Hero doesn’t own any of the places they reserve, they just work with the operators of the lot or facility to sell parking spots. 

Parkopedia – Similar to Spot Hero, this service doesn’t operate any of the spots they sell. You are able to reserve those spots through this company’s website. 

Paying a parking ticket in the City of Austin

Contact information for how to pay your parking ticket should be found on the ticket itself, most likely on the back, according to the City of Austin. If you’ve lost your ticket, you can look up your citation online using your license plate number. 

You can pay your ticket in a few ways:

  • Online using the same search portal
  • Calling the courthouse at (512) 974-4800
  • Mailing a check or money order to Austin Municipal Court, P.O. Box 2135 Austin, TX 78768-2135 with the following information listed: license plate number, date of violation, citation number, your contact information (name, address, phone number)
  • Going in person to two courthouses: Main Courthouse on Burleson Road and the Jaime Padron Substation on Lamplight Village Avenue

You can have your case dismissed by either showing proof that you did pay for parking or that someone else was responsible for the vehicle. Learn how to do so here.

Lastly, you can request a hearing to dispute your parking ticket. You must request one on or before the initial appearance date. You can do so online or by emailing court@austintexas.gov

Parking for Austin’s landmarks

South Congress – South Congress has on-street back-in angle parking between Leland Street and Bouldin Creek. There are also several lots and garages located on side streets coming off of South Congress, as well as on-street parking in those areas as well.  

Zilker Park – A large, free gravel parking lot is located off Stratford Drive near Lou Neff Road. Additionally, on-street parking is offered along Lou Neff Road. Other parking south of Barton Springs Road is offered off Andrew Zilker Road and William Barton Drive. 

Texas State Capitol – There is a Capitol Visitors Parking Garage located at 1201 San Jacinto Boulevard. Its entrance is off East 12th Street and East 13th Street. During the week, parking is free for the first two hours, then $1 for each half hour after that. Daily parking maxes out at $12. Parking on weekends is sometimes free, depending on if there’s an event or not. Maximum daily charge for a weekend is $25. This parking is managed by the State Preservation Board. 

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