Paid P&R parking is getting its nose under the tent at Sound Transit.
In its meeting last Thursday, the Operations and Administration Committee of the ST Board voted to recommend that the full Board approve a parking pilot program. The Board is expected to vote in favor at its Thursday meeting. The pilot is described in this draft board motion which was attached to the agenda for the committee meeting.
By far the most noteworthy component of the pilot program is paid parking permits, which would guarantee parking availability at high-demand P&R lots to permit holders, even if they arrive later in the morning. This is a first in the Puget Sound area. ST would initially reserve 20% of the spaces at the following four ST-operated P&R facilities for permit holders:
- Tukwila International Boulevard Station
- Issaquah Transit Center
- Sumner Station
- Mukilteo Station
This is fantastic news. Details below the jump.
Sound Transit is clear that, for now, this is a proof-of-concept rather than a method to generate meaningful revenue. ST staff writes in the motion:
Permit fees will gauge the willingness of transit riders to ensure parking availability throughout the morning peak commute hours. . . Market-based pricing will not be tested during this pilot period. Fees charged for permits are based on coverage of anticipated costs . . . .
All four of these lots generally fill before the end of AM peak on weekdays, so demand for the permits is likely. 10% of the spaces at each lot would initially be allocated to HOV permit holders, and 10% would be allocated to SOV permit holders. Fees would be nominal for both classes of permits — they are projected to be $5 quarterly for HOVs and $33 quarterly for SOVs.
With the low cost of the SOV permits — just 50 cents per workday — it is unclear what incentive will exist for drivers to acquire a less flexible HOV permit. It is also unclear at this early point in the process how the HOV permits will be enforced. [UPDATE: Bruce Gray of ST has provided additional information about enforcement in the comments. Permits will only be issued to holders of ORCA cards that are used 3x or more per week from the facility. SOV permits will require one such ORCA card; HOV permits, two or more. There will also be limited spot checks at the facility. Thanks, Bruce.] Despite these details, it is great to see ST try some new P&R concepts, and help commuters realize that not every P&R space has to be free and that paying for P&R parking can bring real benefits.
Other components of the pilot program include real-time monitoring of high-demand P&R lots and various rideshare-management activities designed to improve the number of transit users per P&R space.