After more than eight years, John Brophy, tailor of Washington's highly controversial residential parking program, is giving the D.C. Department of Transportation the boot.

But before you go out to celebrate his departure by double parking in the nearest driveway, beware: I'm going," Brophy says, "but the rules are here to stay."

Brophy, whose resignation was effective Friday says he is going into business for himself as a parking management consultant. He also said he's quitting because he needs more money than his GS-15 salary of $46,000 and not because he cannot work harmoniously with Thomas Downs, the new director of the department, as some critics have speculated.

"I've got three kids in private schools," Brophy said, "and I've got to start thinking about how I'm going to put them all through college. You can only go so far when you get into the upper reaches of the government pay scale, and then that's it. If you've got a family, you have to start thinking about what else you can do. I'm 37. My wife and I figured if I was going to make a change, it had better be now.

"It was the money more than anything else . . . Tom Downs is a highly qualified guy, and one of the things I feel sad about is that I will not have the opportunity to work with him. There are no problems between us . . . I think he's going to do a hell of a job."

Brophy, architect of the program that backs up strict residential parking rules with what he described as a Vigorous" towing, ticketing, and booting procedure, said he had accomplished most of his goals during his tenure in office. When he was put in charge of the former Motor Vehicle Parking Agency in 1973, he inherited a highly troubled bureaucracy which was running itself aground by spending $500,000 annually to collect $800,000 in parking meter revenues. At the time, it was estimates that collectors were skimming another $500,000 from the meters.

During the current fiscal year, Brophy said, the department of transportation expects to collect more than $6 million from the city's meters, which have increased in number from about 6,700 in 1972 to more than 12,000 today.

"We've had people from all over . . . New York City, Boston, San Francisco, come to take a look at what we've done here. That's a big thrill for me, because you hear so much about how the District is incapable of implementing and competently running a successful program. It just isn't true."

A native Washngtonian who currently lives in Silver Spring, Brophy said he has no intention of leaving the metropolitan area, but will instead advise officials in other major cities, including New York and San Francisco, on the successful resolution of traffic and parking problems.

Brophy, who called parking regulation an "emotionally charged area," said a sense of humor is the key to dealing with irate citizens who "park in the middle of the sidewalk and then call you an SOB when you tow them away."

Fred Caponiti, current director of parking operations division, will become acting public parking administrator tomorrow.