CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Charlottesville’s Water Street Parking Garage is now offering the first hour of parking for free. After that, it's $2 per hour.

City Hall made the announcement Wednesday, October 10, touting it as a coordination of both prices and schedules with the Market Street Parking Garage.

Both parking garages will also remain open 24 hours a day.

"Parking is critical to downtown Charlottesville, so the city is making sure we’re both consistent and efficient at the Market Street garage and the Water Street garage. So now they have the same rates and same schedules," said spokesperson Brian Wheeler.

By the end of the year, the city says it will install new parking equipment at both garages to provide one approach for tickets and validations.

10/10/2018 Release from the City of Charlottesville:

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - The City of Charlottesville is pleased to announce that the first hour of parking is now free for hourly parkers at both the Market Street and the Water Street parking garages. In addition, both garages are now open 24 hours a day.

The changes in price and schedule were first implemented at the Market Street Garage in March.

When the city reached agreement with Charlottesville Parking Center over the operation of the Water Street Garage, it was announced that the intent would be to operate the Garage in the same manner as the Market Street Garage is operated.

As of October 1, the rate for both garages is $2 per hour with the first hour free and the garages are open 24 hours a day to park or retrieve your car. There is no need, as in the past, to worry about moving your car before midnight. And if you leave the garage outside the hours of fee collection, for example between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. Saturday, parking is free.

In addition, both garages now use supplemental private security guards in the evening. Plus, the city is in the process of installing an upgrade to the existing security camera system in the Water Street Garage.

Before the end of the year, the city will install new parking equipment at both garages to provide a single approach for tickets and validations.The new system is designed to be more reliable and make parking even easier. Additional information on the new system will be available as soon as a firm installation date can be set.

More information about parking downtown, including a map showing both public and private parking lot options, can be found at: