That’s the question Sound Transit and Puyallup are asking themselves. The Puyallup station has 680 spots between four lots near there, but the spots are nearly always full. The News Tribune likes the idea of having the drivers park at satellite lots and take buses to the train station.

One remedy would be a healthy-sized parking garage at the station. A garage would have been built had voters approved the Roads and Transit package last November; now the project awaits possible approval of a scaled-down package.

Sound Transit has already been pursuing a more elegant solution: satellite parking, a decentralized form of park-and-ride. The idea is to let workers park their cars outside the core and take a bus to the station. The bus gets the commuters to the train quickly and on time. There’s already a satellite parking center on South Hill and another in Bonney Lake (which takes people to Sumner Station).

Assuming the bus connection is fast and reliable, this works for everyone. Downtowns don’t get buried in parked cars, and commuters can leave their cars closer to home and not panic about finding a spot near the station before the train leaves.

If satellite parking lots are extended to the suburbs, train service will become more accessible and the reach of mass transit will be extended.

As one of the first small cities to get big-time transit service, Puyallup is a laboratory for other Puget Sound communities. Its parking solutions are probably going to be the region’s parking solutions.

The idea is interesting, to put the parking lots closer to peoples homes and run shuttles. However, the transfer might not be appetizing to all riders, and it could turn some riders off of Sounder. The whole problem makes me think about an idea Martin had at our last meet-up: charge a small amount for parking each day at the main lots, and let the people who don’t mind as much park in the shuttles. I imagine you’d see more carpools, more people walking, and more people biking. The parking money could go to possibly getting more parking, installing bike lockers, operating the shuttles, or really anything. The article also mentions people driving from Sumner to park in Puyallup to avoid crowding, these people might decide to stay in Sumner and park there. As long as Puyallup is a laboratory, we should really try something different.

What do you think? Would you pay for a park-and-ride to avoid crowding? Anyone here bike to a park-and-ride?

19 Replies to “What to do with an overcrowded park-and-ride?”

  1. If, as has been said here many times, the average commuter is more likely to convert to transit if the transit option is rail (vs. bus), then let’s call these people ‘transit fragile’.

    By forcing these transit-fragile people onto a bus, then logically these same people are more likely to give up the whole notion of attempting to ride transit altogether.

    Also, in many people’s minds riding transit IS equivalent to carpooling. So in their minds, carpooling to “the carpool” is redundant.

    I love taking the bus whenever I can, but I’d never ride a shuttle bus to get to a PnR. Never. It’s that quantum leap of time loss that would keep me driving down the road.

  2. Yesterday when we arrived at Puyallup Station, a Pierce Transit bus was awaiting passengers from the train. Being on the last car, the bus was standing only and was departing… I say the parking works very well and should be expanded.

    I still think a station at South Auburn near Lake Tapps Parkway would be an excellent choice and would relieve at least 40% of the parking pressure at Auburn Station.

    Sumner Station for example could easily serve the Bonney Lake and Milton communities.

    Puyallup Station could serve South Hill and/or Graham along with North Puyallup.

  3. I don’t think people are going to like the increased time it takes to get to the transit center if they can’t drive, I’m sure they commute is long enough already…

    It makes way more sense to build a garage, heck you can put parking underground and build a mixed use project there.

  4. Forcing people to satellite lots with trams means they will have to rush through existing inter-city traffic even harder than they do now so they can get to the satellite lot even earlier than they already have to do, so they can factor in the delay to the next shuttle bus and the shuttle bus trip time.

    No good. Of course, if ST ran more trains, commuters wouldn’t be overstressed by the fear of missing the last one (which leaves most stations well before 8AM).

  5. Satellite lots, combined with a nominal parking fee ($1-$2?) at the station makes a lot of sense.

    It separates out the extremely price-sensitive from the not, minimizes the amount of valuable real estate next to the station devoted to parking, and discourages driving for those who could easily reach the station by bus, carpool, bike, or walking.

    It’s a good idea, even if the revenue only pays for the collection itself.

  6. … And if the satellite lots are strategically placed near major housing nodes, is in effect improved bus service to and from the station.

  7. Any solution that reduces utilization of the lot without increasing the amount of train options (i.e., additional train stations, or more parking slots) will mean more people will choose to drive.

    Some people will look at additional cost and pick driving. THough right now that may just mean that you are shifting who drives from the group that gets there late to the group that are cheapskates.

    Some people will look at extra bus time and pick driving.

  8. Reading,

    If lot utilization declined while encouraging use of other modes, that doesn’t necessarily increase driving.

    If they’re really cheapskates, the train still beats the cost of driving, so they’ll continue to use it.

    They’ll just seek an alternative mode to get to the station, especially if there’s one readily available.

  9. This seems like a whole bunch of speculation for nothing.

    The political reality is that a ballot proposal which included parking fees at PnRs would be an absolute political non-starter.

    Any mention of this at all would immediately be seized upon by the anti-transitist, along with a large section of transit loyalists.

    A political non-starter.

  10. I like “transit fragile”, that’s a great word.

    I want more parking, but it’d be hard to get the pnr’s built near Sounder stations because capacity is really high, there’d have to be 1,000s of spots.

  11. presumably, the reason a lot of people voted against taxation for these projects was because they opposed the projects or did not “use” the services. applying a “user fee” to park and rides in the suburbs is not a new idea, and has often been used as a way to force subsidization of park-and-ride expansion. this has worked other places and there’s no reason we shouldn’t begin immediately charging “user fees” for park and rides just like we charge “user fees” in the form of fares on buses. as someone else said, the user fee would be cheaper than driving still, and the whiners will disappear pretty quick once they see people willing to put their money where their mouth is…

  12. Is there a feasible way to give people a refund for not parking in the lot? If paired with a ticket price increase, this could, in effect, build the cost of parking into the cost of the ticket and give people an incentive to choose another mode without triggering the why-should-I-pay-twice feeling that makes charging for parking politically difficult.

  13. It would be a good idea to go the other direction. When you pay for your ticket, allow someone to pay an extra $2 parking fee. Insert this into the exit gate, and you’re off without having to wait in a cashier line.

  14. My Federal Way East-West commute will never be well-served by transit. (15 minutes to drive or 1/4 mile walk + 90-120 minute ride with many stops and transfers according to the Metro bus planner guide.)

    However, if I were driving to a Sounder station to ride somewhere, the last thing I’d want to do is also add a bus into the mix. That to me suggests some kind of planning failure.

    Build a parking garage. Make the first floor into a transit center for busses – leaving space to run a light rail or streetcar track, encase retail around the outside of the first few floors. Make some parking free, make some parking paid (gated, monthly pass, assigned space, the longer-term the pass you buy, the better the space). Cap the thing off on top with some residential.

    If that’s too dense, then perhaps the station was built too close to the quaint little town’s downtown and the buildings they need to raze to roll out more parking is their punishment.

  15. Drive to the train and take the train to work. Absolutely. (I wish this was an option for me!) Drive to a bus, take the bus to the train, take the train to work? Absolutely not. Brad put it best…

    “It’s that quantum leap of time loss that would keep me driving down the road.”

  16. Don’t forget to factor in that the train station in Downtown is not anyone’s final destination. Folks are already walking, biking, or transferring to a bus (and soon light rail) when they arrive in Downtown.

  17. One option that may help Puyallup would be to re-run the tracks that used to connect Puyallup to Orting. and run a DMU on that line that was scheduled to arrive 5 minutes before each sounder arrived at Puyallup, and Leave 5 minutes after each sounder Departs Puyallup

    I assume that the Track through Grahm is the same track taht the Dinner Train used, if so, and the grade is not to steep for a DMU, a DMU on that line connecting to Sounder and running on the same scheduling guidelines outlined for Puyallup-Orting would also serve to push the parking out of Puyallup.

    As to Auburn, There is the BNSF Stampeed pass line that could handle service to the East of Auburn, it comes within a couple of miles of Covington, and 5 miles of Maple Valey, A DMU on this line serving from Auburn to Maple Valey would reduce parking demand at the Auburn Station.

    Lor Scara

  18. I live on South Hill. I tried parking in downtown Puyallup once…never tried again. So when I had to take the train I’d always use the satellite parking at the mall. Plus it was a lot closer to drive to anyway. I think ST should just do some surveys and figure out where these people live. How about express shuttles to satellite parking in Graham, Edgewood, or East Puyallup? I also noticed some Puyallup commuters are UW kids. Maybe Pierce Transit should start accepting their U Pass on the shuttle so they don’t take up parking spots at puyallup station? Just ideas.

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