City Administrator Rich Conrad said Metro has agreed to supply a van and assist the city with the task of searching for a securing parking. So far, the city has agreed to provide volunteer drivers…
The need for a north-south shuttle stemmed from lack of parking at the two-story Park and Ride, which was expanded more than two years ago in an effort to add more parking. Parking spots increased from 250 in 2006 to 447 in 2008 after a two-year, $19.1 million expansion project.
What’s curious about the article, an earlier article on the subject, and a related editorial in the Mercer Island Reporter, is the failure to even mention existing Metro bus service. The 204 provides mid-day and weekend service in that corridor, while the 202 covers both directions in the peak and goes on to Downtown Seattle. In either case, headways are roughly a half-hour. Both are middling routes by Eastside performance standards, a little below average but by no means dogs.
I suspect that making the shuttle distinct from Metro may save money by not having to pay into Metro’s relatively high cost structure. It’s elsewhere referred to as a “vanpool experiment” and there’s talk of volunteer drivers, so it’s clear they’re looking to do it on the cheap. On the other hand, not integrating with the network is only going to make it harder for people to find out about it and make it less reliable.
Attempts to contact Mercer Island leaders and staff on the shuttle proposal did not produce a response. More on the parking shortage after the jump.
It must be said that said that the parking crisis is partially a result of earlier shortsightedness by the Mercer Island Council:
“Sound Transit came prepared to expand the lot — they had enough money to add hundreds of stalls — but the Council opted for a smaller expansion,” Conrad said.
He said the Mercer Island City Council asked Sound Transit to almost double the size of the lot, which held 257 cars before the expansion, and spend the other money allotted for the project on building more parking space east of Mercer Island. The Council hoped that doing so would reduce the number of cars from off-Island that tended to park in the Mercer Island lot, Conrad said…
Sound Transit suggested building a taller lot to cut costs per stall, but the City Council opposed this idea to protect the surrounding neighborhood.
(H/T: Jonathan Frazier)