AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Parks and Recreation Department will soon add new automated parking pay stations to Zilker Park.

Parking lots near Stratford Road and the South Barton Springs Pool lot near Azie Morton Road will now have pay stations like the rest of the park.

The lots were free before the decision was made to add the paid parking. The automated parking stalls for these areas will be activated on May 1, 2023.

In 2016, pay stations were installed to help reduce both traffic congestion and operating expenses.

“It is large enough to park, easy access to get in and out and it’s free,” said Patrick Nicks, who said he is unhappy to hear the lot near Stratford Road will begin charging people. “That is very upsetting. It is going to be a pain to come to Zilker now. It will probably deter me from coming here.”

Zilker Park currently charges from March to September at most of the lots. Payment is only required over the weekend, holidays and during special events.

Beginning May 1, the fee will be $7 for the day, which is an increase from the current $5.

“I think if you are traveling with a group of people then it is worth the 7 bucks to carpool, but individually that is kind of steep,” said Abhay, who was riding his park through Zilker.

The City of Austin said there will also be a seasonal free weekend and holiday shuttle service every 20 minutes to Zilker Metropolitan Park from the One Texas Center parking garage located at 505 Barton Springs Road. It is anticipated to run Memorial Day through Labor Day– specific dates to be confirmed in the coming weeks.

Fees from the paid parking will go towards park upkeep and maintenance as well as safety initiatives, lighting and future electric vehicle stations.