KOMO reported last Thursday that Sound Transit is planning to lease an additional 103 parking spaces at Edmonds Station under a 5-year agreement with Salish Crossing, owners of the adjacent Edmonds Antique Mall. This will increase P&R capacity by 66% (from 156 to 259 spaces). The spaces will be free for riders.
Much critical attention, both here on STB and elsewhere, has been paid to Sounder North since the Citizens’ Oversight Panel publicly questioned its continued viability. In this critical context it will be interesting to see the effects of the new parking both on ridership and public sentiment. Adding free parking is almost always a net political win for agencies, but in this case the price is very high. Sound Transit has agreed to pay $150 per space per month for 5 years, for a total contract cost of approximately $927,000. Assuming 100% utilization, 250 workdays per year, and 15 special event service days, the new parking will amount to an additional subsidy of $6.79 per car per day.
This will be in addition to the $32/boarding costs Adding roughly 10% to ridership will certainly decrease the $32 cost per boarding figure, but probably not enough to outweigh the cost of the added parking. In any case, Sounder North costs will remain sky-high.
But if there’s any place that it’s proper to invest along the line, it’s Edmonds. Sounder is 46% faster to Edmonds (27 minutes) than CT 416 (50 minutes), 50% faster (42 minutes) to Mukilteo than CT 417 (83 minutes),
but 31% slower to Everett (59 minutes) than ST 510 (45 minutes) and a reliable 59 minutes to Everett, while ST 510 runs 50-75 minutes, depending on time of day and traffic. Relatively speaking, Sounder should be more attractive to Edmonds commuters than anyone else, and if constraints in parking supply have been a true drag on ridership, then it is reasonable to expect the agency to seek to lease existing but unused spaces.
The Sound Transit board is expected to vote on the issue on November 15th. The new spaces are expected to become available May 1, 2013.
[Update: See clarifications above. The original post erroneously used off-peak travel times on ST 510 from 4th/Union to Everett Station. The post has been updated to show the full range of travel times between 4th/Jackson and Everett.