Puyallup Station. Image, Sound Transit

Sound Transit is pursuing improvements to station facilities at Puyallup and Sumner to accommodate growing Sounder ridership. These include the addition of several hundred parking stalls at each location.

At Sumner, the improvements include a 400+ stall parking garage to complement existing surface parking. At Puyallup, the agency plans a garage with up to 400 stalls, and another 300 surface parking spots to be built or leased at two other locations. The area around both stations will also see pedestrian and bicycle improvements. These include pedestrian bridges over the station railroad tracks. The improvements are to be completed by 2020.

The $94 million price tag was reported on these pages a few weeks ago, and wasn’t universally applauded. Why is a transit agency spending so much on parking? Shouldn’t we be investing in transit service over car storage? Why can’t we charge for parking on city streets to manage spillovers? Aren’t there alternate investments to improve transit ridership without enabling sprawl?

There’s no question that parking has become a challenge at both stations. Puyallup Station sees 1,200 Sounder riders per weekday. Sumner sees over a thousand. Two-thirds of riders drive to the station, with 20% arriving by bus. Lot parking is typically full by 6AM, causing spillover onto neighborhood streets that persists all day. Ten roundtrip trains a day leave each station. Three more are planned by 2017, and ridership is estimated to grow 70% by 2035.

Stacked against alternative transit investments in Seattle’s urban neighborhoods, such large expenditures would be impossible to justify. Even if it were cost-effective, we would never endorse placing park-and-ride garages in successful urban areas because they are so hostile to the dense walkable neighborhoods we prefer to see around transit.

In Puyallup and Sumner, it’s unlikely that there are better options. Sounder is an effective means of getting commuters to Seattle, but only if there are efficient collection points. Local land use doesn’t support getting transit close to most commuters’ homes, so the flexibility of the private car wins out as a mechanism for getting riders to the train. Land use is inherently very durable, particularly in places far from the urban core, so this won’t change quickly. Eventually, Puyallup could densify, but not likely to the point that a majority of riders are living downtown. In the meantime, the commercial core is fairly fragile, heavily dependent on drivers demanding convenient parking. Sounder service without dedicated parking could hurt access to downtown businesses more than it fosters walkable development.

Sounder service, it turns out, isn’t readily separated from parking. When we (as a region) decided we wanted Sounder South, we signed up to provide parking to match the seats on trains. There is no last mile solution that doesn’t have most commuters parking at the station.

Why not charge for existing parking rather than build more? Pricing has an obvious role as a management tool, but it’s primarily a rationing mechanism. In a station environment with necessarily limited parking, it drives out some users. One of two scenarios is inescapable. Sounder riders may decide that the cost of parking plus the train ticket is too high, and resume driving to Seattle. Or Sounder riders decide that the total cost of riding is acceptable, and displace customers of the business district, perhaps killing local retail. Most Sounder riders won’t be induced to walk or bike to stations because it’s too far. And Puyallup is an odd place to live if your goal is to not have a car.

Even in the moderately dense communities of the Eastside, many Link stations are being built with large parking facilities. Eastside cities won’t have large parking facilities for Link riders in their downtowns, but there will be significant parking infrastructure at other stops. Redmond, for instance, will see a downtown Link station (given ST3 passage) serving their urban core, and a SE Redmond station with 1,400 parking spaces in a five-story structure. The parking at this site will be critical to serving commuters from low-density neighborhoods that cannot be efficiently served by local transit.

60 Replies to “Parking and Suburban Transit”

  1. I think it makes sense to charge for parking to raise money as well. Last time I checked, neither riding the bus or the train was free. Charging a bit will also move people to buses, although not in the ways that we would necessarily like to see. People won’t necessarily take a bus from home, but drive to where they can catch a bus (and then take Sounder). I think that would be an improvement, and for many, their only practical option (since bus service isn’t that extensive).

    1. It’s especially not extensive for these two stations, which I think may be part of the problem. Considering the cost to build and maintain these structures it seems like the cost to have better bus service should be considered.

      The key is to make sure that the bus service is synchronized to Sounder so that there isn’t much time penalty for transfers. If the buses essentially act as extensions of Sounder with well functioning transfers then there shouldn’t be a huge issue in attracting some ridership to them.

      Sure, there will still be park and ride lots, especially along highway 410 and in Bonney Lake and Prairie Ridge. However, it would be possible to connect smaller park and ride lots that may not even need to be devoted to commuter service. For example, church parking lots and movie theatre parking lots are usually hugely underutilized during the weekdays. Maybe something could be worked out with Regal Cinemas Tall Pines and a few other such locations?

      Though, in the case of Sumner the biggest thing near the station seems to be a car dealership as much pavement and parked cars as the park and ride lot, so probably no huge loss in building a big P&R lot there as there isn’t too much loss to the nature of the downtown area.

      1. Building the additional parking facilities may be the more cost effective solution to the problem of excessive demand for Sounder service in these suburban communities. From a business perspective, the construction cost of $96mil has to be balanced against the cost of providing feeder bus service. One-way, peak-only transit service is the most costly and least efficient service. Any network of peak-only transit service will be highly subsidized and will limit growth on other, more effective routes. If ST has to maintain and operate a network of highly subsidized feeder routes just for peak hour Sounder connections there will be constraints on service for more productive routes.

        If the parking facilities are built for $96mil, I presume that the annual amortization cost would be about $3mil (30 year asset life). So, the question becomes: can an effective network of feeder bus routes be operated at a cost of less than $3mil annually? I don’t know the answer and my question certainly ignores many relevant external considerations like: how can we limit suburban sprawl and create better communities? But from a cold-hearted cost accounting view, it may be more efficient to build the parking.

      2. One-way commuter buses make no sense at all, unless you are certain everyone works exactly the same hours and there is absolutely nothing along the route other than houses.

        I take a very suburban (two convenience stores and a retirement home are the only businesses) bus route two or three times per week, and even it has riders going the opposite of peak direction. Some are students or teachers headed to school, at least one is headed back home from night work at a hospital, and a the rest probably have similar reasons to be there.

        Sure, it is nowhere near full, but it certainly isn’t 0, which is what it would be taking if it operated off-peak as a deadhead move.

        Highway 410 has scattered businesses along it all the way out to Enumclaw. If enough money could be found to run a bus all the way out there it could have riders going both directions on it.

      3. A short line circulator of paratransit-size buses – low-floor/hybrid – could guarantee Sounder patrons a reliable transfer to parking facilities along its route, and increase parking away from the station for other purposes that benefit the local economy. Sound Transit is firmly tucked into the back pockets of automobile-related business interests. The more we plan for driving, parking and commuting across the county, the less we plan for neighborhood economic resilience.

    2. Just as feeder buses are effectively free (because of transfers), and crossing pedestrian overpasses is free, so parking needs to be. If you do away with transfers, and charge a toll on ST provided pedestrian overpasses, I’d be happy to discuss charging for parking.

      1. If pedestrian bridges were as expensive to provide as parking in proportion to the number of people using them, I’d agree with you. There’s a fixed number of people who can use a parking lot or garage per day, and once those 400 (or whatever number) cars are there, it’s effectively useless until they leave in the evening. But when 400 pedestrians cross the bridge, the bridge is still there inviting 400 or 4000 more.

      2. I think you are forgetting that the parking is at capacity, and that Sound Transit is considering spending more tax payer money on more parking.

        It makes sense to provide an incentive for those who walk or take a bus to the station, because they are reducing the need for parking, and thus saving the tax payers money. The incentive is obvious and you’ve already mentioned — give them a free trip to the station. Other users, who contribute to the need for the expensive project, should have no such incentive to drive to the station. There should be a small charge for parking.

      3. There’s a limit to how high you can price the parking (and it’s probably not very high in Puyallup) before you get people parking around the corner from the garage.

        But I agree there’s a role for low parking fees. It could even be approximately revenue-neutral; say replace the $8.50 Sounder fare with a $6.50 fare and a $2 parking fee. The trick is finding a mix of fares/fees that doesn’t get you too much hide-and-ride, but still makes for an incentive for some people to walk/carpool/take the bus to the station.

        This garage is going to fill, maybe soon after it opens. So there will be a value to commuters in having garage access over searching for other parking.

      4. Just as feeder buses are effectively free (because of transfers), and crossing pedestrian overpasses is free, so parking needs to be. If you do away with transfers, and charge a toll on ST provided pedestrian overpasses, I’d be happy to discuss charging for parking.

        This is nonsense. In order for this to rise to the level of an argument you have to explain why price-symmetry is a desideratum for different access methods. You give no reasons.

      5. Charge for parking. It’s insane not to, if the parking lots are full.

        Look, I live in a town which has done its best to promote its downtown. Parking is $1/hour. They’re not crazy enough to make it free — if it’s free, there’s *no turnover*.

        (I think there are discounts for all-day parking, but I’ve never checked.)

        Set a price and see how much demand disappears. If the garage is less than 80% full, cut the price. If it’s 100% full, raise the price.

      6. I also live (part-time) in a town which has very, very successfully promoted its downtown over the past 15 years, and it now has an extremely walkable downtown and several new hotels/apartments/condos in the downtown area. A huge part of this, being in the southeast with its concomitant horrible transit, was providing a large number of garages–about 6300 spaces total–around the periphery of the narrow downtown corridor. Doing so kept Main Street, which is extremely walkable and closed Thursday and Friday nights most of the year for music/festivals, a very pleasant place to be. There is on-street parking throughout, and it’s free–but the city charges $0.50/hour to a maximum of $12 in the garages and it seems to work. Some garages are actually free on weekends and most evenings but I’ve never had a problem parking in one. There’s also a free circulator bus that was added when a new ballpark was built and downtown grew outward to meet it.

        Boulder, CO has done something similar with its parking situation, which has helped to make Pearl Street a nice pedestrian street. Both cities have integrated the garages reasonably well and kept the human scale that makes lively neighborhoods possible. Boulder has better transit than Greenville, but the scale of the town and the sprawl of the Front Range communities mean most people still drive. Garages with a small fee worked in both places and there is no reason a small suburban city can’t have similar success, particularly when rail service is already bringing a critical mass of people through their downtowns.

  2. In the current situation, parking is essentially cooked into the price of the train ticket. Perhaps one way that charging for parking could be justified would be to simultaneously lower the price of the ticket.

    This way, the price of parking is explicit and riders who bus, bike, walk and carpool get a price break. To the extent that riders mode-switch, there are more parking places for others.

    1. BTW, even if it makes sense to charge for parking on-site at Puyallup Station, it would probably also make sense to not charge for parking at the Red Lot. Those riders either have to take a shuttle bus or a longish walk to get to the station.

      1. That would be extremely logical. If people are willing to hike in from a distance away, then they can get free parking.

    2. Charging for parking is something that ST should be doing as a policy system wide, at least at their top-tier P&R/Stations if not everywhere. (Top-Tier being a P&R attached to a Sounder/Link Station, a structured parking garage, large and heavily used surface lot, etc.)

    3. In the current situation, parking is essentially cooked into the price of the train ticket.

      How so? Farebox recovering is actually slightly lower than ST express and Metro, but is paying a similar share of the cost of the ride as other transit in the region, including transit, such as Metro, not associated with expensive parking expenditures.

      1. All Sounder stations except King Street have parking provided. It’s part of the service. If the number of parking spaces available limits the number of riders on the trains, the farebox recovery will be limited. Using the cost breakdown strategically to entice mode-shifting will allow the trains to carry more riders at the same capital cost and reduce cost/boarding.

      2. Curious – how many suburban sounder stations are in downtown cores that are walkable. I suspect that there aren’t that many. In adition, what about nearby housing that’s also in walking distance?

      3. @SEAN — Probably not many. But that doesn’t mean that folks shouldn’t be given an incentive to take a bus to the station instead of driving. Right now, there is no incentive.

      4. But that doesn’t mean that folks shouldn’t be given an incentive to take a bus to the station instead of driving. Right now, there is no incentive. Really? What about the ability to pay for parking via ORCA & give special discounts to cardholders.

      5. They were walkable before the post-WWII car-oriented development tore them down. Kent, Auburn, Sumner, and Puyallup were all railroad towns and on the Interurban.

        This gets into my despair at downtown Renton, even though it’s a couple miles away from Sounder. The downtown Renton bowl looks like an atomic bomb hit it and it was then rebuilt with sprawl hell. You can still see a few intact short blocks that the city is now trying to build a new pedestrian core in. Well, extend it out to Raniner Avenue, bulldoze the big box stores and stack them on top of each other!

        Or when I was in Germany in a suburb of Düsseldorf. Everything looked 1950s-modern, and my bus stop was between two car dealerships on either side of the street. But it was still somewhat walkable (given that it was the periphery of a suburb), the buses were more like RapidRide than regular Metro, and went to two S-Bahn lines, and all multifamily housing. As we discussed earlier, driving there is more of a hobby than a necessity (and drivers have nice BMWs :). I didn’t like the uniform 50s styling, but then I realized the area probably was bombed during the war and was rebuilt. So it has an excuse. Renton doesn’t. And it’s still more pleasant to be in than Renton.

        As for a town being around where Tukwila Station is now, I don’t know for sure but I think not. I think that was all farmland, including Southcenter mall. If there was a Tukwila town, I don’t know where it was or have seen any trace of it.

      6. Tukwila was incorporated in 1908. And it had the Interurban. So I’d guess there was a real downtown somewhere.

        It’s rather awesome, and not in a good way, that they’ve so thoroughly obliterated their history we can’t figure out where it might have been.

      7. Maybe they built Southcenter on top of their downtown. I suppose it also could have been obliterated by I-5 or I-405.

      8. I don’t know much Tukwila history, so I’m just spitballing, but… the interurban ran down by the river and freight tracks, a more likely location for an industrial suburb than a big commercial downtown. There are plenty of reasons a town incorporates, and plenty of places along interurban lines that have never had very big downtown-type areas. Interurban trains ran through places like Shoreline and Alderwood, which surely had some local businesses, but in secondary commercial areas that transitioned into the highwayside strips of today.

      9. Re: Historic Location of Tukwila:

        The Interurban Railroad operated a commuter line from 1902 to 1928 passing through Tukwila. The population in 1930 was about 425, and didn’t reach 1000 until the mid-1950’s. The original settlers built the first home in the Fort Dent Park area (near Starfire Stadium), so the town site was likely near there. Photo below shows the Interurban Station, I haven’t come up with the exact location so far, but near Interurban Ave around the Green River just North of the present I-405 would be a good guess. The Interurban was pretty much just passing through on its way to Renton and beyond.

        Photo: http://digitalcollections.lib.washington.edu/cdm/ref/collection/kccollects/id/472

      10. It would have been mostly farmland as it is flat river bottomlands. Some of it remains as such today (see north of 277th, south of highway 516 and west of 68th Ave.) but probably not much longer based on how rapidly all that is being converted to sprawl.

        Picture something along the lines of downtown Napavine today: a hardware store, a school, a bar or two and a “team track” where the local produce was loaded into railroad cars.

        With so few buildings it would have been easily obliterated.

  3. Pricing is appropriate. I think we’re seeing a trend that most transportation projects have some end-user cost component to them. E.G. 99 tunnel, 520 bridge, and all fare-charging transit investments. These parking garages, whatever else anyone thinks of them, are transportation projects.

    A round trip fare from Puyallup or Sumner to Seattle is $8.50. Parking downtown is generally more expensive than that (the cheapest garage early bird I’ve seen is about $11). So, there is some room there to charge $1.50 or so (a bargain for all day parking) and still be cost competitive with driving alone. And that’s excluding the other factors that make the train preferable.

    I understand the theory that we’re enabling sprawl. However, there is still such a thing called the urban growth boundary and while the GMA is in place, there will be a limit on the amount of tract-house developments that are built. Thus, to the extent that the parking garages could generate additional sprawl, I don’t think it will be as bad as it could be under different circumstances.

  4. Downtown Puyallup and Sumner are walkable areas; unfortunately the county has allowed a lot of un-mitigated sprawl development in the unincorporated areas that force the use of the automobile over transit or walking. Not to mention that the county has let its transit system erode away through service cuts does not help either.

  5. Paying for parking and paying to ride the train would mentally feel like “paying twice to ride the train.” The airport probably doesn’t suffer this as much because you’re used to everyone holding out their hand (airline, parking, shops and restaurants) and you use it less frequently.

    Naturally, there are ways to combat that mental model:
    (1) sell combined tickets at the parking garage entrance
    (2) make sure the parking garage supports more than just transit (though make each a true transit hub with covered bus stops) so that there are other reasons to come to the area and pay for parking (but make it vibrant, not a crime magnet)
    (3) allow for more separation between purchases (sell passes, charge for train when you board and parking when you exit garage), allow for easier access/parking with the pass (like HOV/HOT)
    (4) make the choice to park and take the train feel like more of a reward (random free-parking days or a day of free parking for every 10 train ticket stubs, etc.)

    Similar mental models exist for effort – I could drive to a transit station and pay less for a bus pass than I do for a space-not-guaranteed parking permit in Bellevue but the mental model of two “commutes” – first the drive to the bus station, park, walk, wait, board, and then the commute in someone else’s vehicle to work (it’s four commutes in one day!).

    At least with eventual light rail, it’s not the same because the modes of transportation are different enough.

      1. Or paying for guaranteed valet parking with optional fill up and car wash? Valet parked cars could be stored further away from the station and parked more efficiently. Only those willing to pay for dropping off their car right at the station would pay and more parking spots available overall. I’d call that win-win.

    1. “make sure the parking garage supports more than just transit ”

      I’m pretty sure the City of Puyallup (and all the others) would really like the parking garage to support local shoppers and workers in “downtown”. So this seems like a good bet.

  6. Agreed that in sprawling places like Puyallup and Sumner that people will be expected to get to the train by car. But in the moderately dense Eastside, there will be plenty of people within biking distance, and we need to induce them to bike and not drive. It’s hard to do that when the parking is free and plentiful. Providing safe and comfortable routes to the station is key, but that will be hard with 1400 cars per day going there as well.

  7. Here in the NYC area most Metro-North, LIRR & NJ Transit rail stations charge for parking. In some cases the parking is controlled by a private company while others are controlled by the town or city. Some of the latter cases include paid parking within the downtown areas as well. Bronxville NY, White Plains NY, Ridgewood NJ & Stamford CT are just four of numerous examples.

    I realize that the Seattle landscape with it’s endless sprawl is a completely different animal, but free parking doesn’t solve the real problem. To solve this problem it is nessessary to toll most highways to a point that it causes a change in commuting habbits – or at least raise downtown parking rates to a point that it will offset the necessity of housing the numbers of cars that enter downtown each day including weekends. It maybe also nessessary to charge a nominal fee to park at commuter lots, however there needs to be increases in Sounder, ST & KCM services.

    1. You’ve touched on the point which is my issue: These projects should be undertaken and paid for mostly by local cities and not ST. I’m even cool with ST providing part of the money — but I believe that local preferences an money should be moved to fix problems that emerge. In this setup, the local cities are like parasites where they are sucking limited transit resources from a transit operator and get to blame the problems on the operator as if they conceptually point.to ST as the intruder. Sounder is a gift from the subarea, not an intrusion! I’d even go as far to say that local city traffic mitigation fees should go to pay mostly for projects like this.

      In fact, if I had my druthers, I’ll like to see most station capital costs be borne by local city as a default That way, the community and its citizens can determine the best way to deal with accessing the station and regulate neighboring land uses, determine nearby street parking, major facilities siting and a host of other things. We could build more rail as a region if we didn’t have to pay for station mitigation like this.

  8. As long as subarea equity is in force, I’m perfectly happy to see Sound Transit spend suburban money on things that suburban voters want. We aren’t building parking lots in Seattle and I’m happy with this decision as well.

    1. Northgate? NE 145th? NE 185th?

      The latter two are in Shoreline, but it’s North King money paying for the P&Rs. You’re mostly right though.

    2. Northgate and 145th (and 65th) are legacy P&Rs that were essentially grandfathered in. Seattle’s current policy is no new P&Rs at transit stations. That has been getting some people that want a P&R in Rainier Valley angry, and they point to people parking on the street even ten blocks away from the Link stations. (Naturally I tell them about the private lots near stations, but they’re not interested in those because you have to pay for them.)

  9. This isn’t a matter of parking, but the fact that so many Sounder passengers need so much of it to ride the trains because they live so scattered all over the county.

    But it’s also very telling that so many of them want to ride the train. Leading to the further question as to why so few of them want to live in the existing town containing the station.

    When the streetcar industry was the automobile industry of its time, car-lines often promoted ridership by opening their own neighborhoods at terminals. With their own money, as a business expense.

    Considering the cost of having to accommodate sprawled passengers and their cars, it might be well worth it for transit systems to imitate their forebears.

    And while they’re at it, encourage the kinds of small-scale industries that let people live in, say, Puyallup, and visit Seattle for reasons suburban kids do now.

    I know every single political, and legal obstacle, and would be happily surprised if the first complex broke ground in my lifetime. But based on history, I think the economics and demographics are on transit’s side. Good metric: How many kids run away to Bonnie Lake?

    For a model of modern city life with wide appeal, South Lake Union is just fine for Puyallup- with some more industry, and a lot less need for billionaires. Most perverted thing about “Fifty Shades of Gray” is amount of contract language the poor girl has to sign.

    With no union protection. And worst of all…what about inevitable age discrimination and retirement? Given present trends, doubts about the pension plan.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Kent and Auburn already have a lot of industry, and people do live and work there. But neither the jobs nor the housing is very transit accessible, and I don’t see much hope that Sumner or Puyallup would industrialize any better. We see the people on the commuter trains and express buses and think that’s the majority of residents but it’s not. People work at Boeing (Renton and Kent), the industries in the Kent Valley and east Tacoma, in medical centers, shopping centers, schools, JBLM, etc. Many of them rarely go to Seattle.

  10. Oh, and also, just to stay On Topic…In any book in the series, does the girl EVER get on Sounder, ST Express, or (eeewwww!) any DSTT route even including the 550? Yeah…Uber and Lyft I can see.


  11. Parking is clearly needed in suburban areas to access transit, but it imposes a lot of costs on the surrounding area that might be minimized if it was better designed. Park and rides are frequently found in or near suburban cores, using space that would be more valuable and useful for other uses. Parking lots are just as hostile to pedestrians in suburbs as in cities. They tend to eliminate other uses and create a dead spot where nothing happens except for parking. At peak hours, they seem to cause local congestion too (though the size of lots would suggest that’s unlikely). Getting buses to and from them is hard because of traffic, whether it is generated by the lot itself or not.

    Also, there are some lots (South Bellevue, Kingsgate) that are not really near anything, which avoids some of the problems I just mentioned, but makes them really unpleasant places to wait for connecting buses.

    What I’d like to see are efforts to integrate parking with the surrounding environment (if it’s somewhat built up) by putting it behind or below useful buildings that can contain other uses in addition to transit bays. Make it a place where other things happen onsite or immediately nearby. Make it friendly for walking and biking (including connecting more distant P&Rs to trails for non-motorized users, and more central lots to bike lanes and sidewalks) Give buses exclusive lanes through potentially congested areas. Don’t just treat the parking lot as a void for dumping and retrieving cars that ignores the local area.

    That would also improve the experience for people who drive to the lot to take transit. I think poor park and ride experiences contribute mightily to the negative perceptions about buses in particular and transit generally.

    By making these places somewhat welcoming, you would probably increase use to the point where charging for parking might be needed to keep vehicles to a manageable level, but that’s a good problem to have. It means that transit is actually being well-used and that the physical location and conditions of parking lots aren’t driving people away.

  12. You know, Velo, years ago I heard about a beyond-valet service in Paris. In addition to having your car picked up and delivered anywhere in the city, the service would also not only garage your car, but keep it washed and perform all scheduled maintenance.

    My ideal car use is same as a fine horse- to ride only when and where it’s healthy and enjoyable for both of us. So one exception to my dislike of automated cars: Having your car programmed only to take you home from bar or party.

    Exactly how a lot of our Forefathers lived to sign the Declaration of Independence. When in the course of human events their wife would have brained them with a rolling pin if she had to go find them at the Inn.

    A weapon, incidentally, that the Framers definitely intended the Second Amendment to cover, because unless you had a whole line of guys shoulder to shoulder, a smooth-bore army musket couldn’t hit anything.

    Therefore, Lyft headquarters should have on its front lawn a bronze statue of a horse carrying a Founding Father looking at the special chiming watch all riders carried to alert them to congestion-related fare and toll changes.

    Both for the animals’ historic service to our country, and also so that the fallen heroes of the War on Horses are not forgotten.


  13. This is why I won’t support Sound Transit come ballot time.

    Subsidy on top of subsidy to prop up…..Puyallup? Besides this, their free and overflowing park and rides mean they don’t understand urban transportation.

    1. I highly encourage you to keep writing them, then, so they understand you oppose them for that reason instead of your opposing public transportation as such. I’m afraid too many of our politicians would take the opposite message from an ST defeat.

    2. If the people down there they want more parking, rather than more buses, that’s their choice, but as long as Seattle money isn’t paying for it, it doesn’t really matter all that much.

    3. Yes, a parking garage or lot contributes to sprawl, and all that. But the benefit of that parking lot goes beyond benefiting the commuters in Puyallup or Sumner. Those 1200 or 1400 cars with their passengers are NOT being added to the traffic headed into Seattle. Thus, if I’m driving during rush hour, I’m benefiting from a somewhat faster ride, too.

      Sure, my initial gut reaction was to say that we should charge for parking. But this isn’t so much about revenue as it is about keeping the roads a bit clearer and getting more people to work. I would rather (as a taxpayer) pay for a parking lot for train commuters than pay a significantly larger amount for more lanes on more highways.

      1. Well, that’s OK for Seattle, but for Puyallup it seems like kind of a raw deal.

        Perhaps it will be renamed to City of Remote Parking Lot 3?

  14. As someone who has to use Auburn station(which is always overfull) from time to time, and also drops off/picks up a commuter everyday. Pricing the parking structure makes sense, especially as (at least in Auburn) the downtown begins to densify. The city of Auburn ALREADY charges for parking in the few lots around town and they are full most mornings too. People will pay for the privilege of having parking available for the 7-8am trains.

    Now, to address the concern of pay-parking causing people to drive. I DOUBT it. The whole point of the train, at least among the people who ride it and live in the ‘burbs, not on one of the bus routes, is the pleasure of not sitting in traffic and being downtown faster. Pair the paid parking with a minor reduction in the regular fare and everyone would be happy.

    Really building more garages won’t help for Auburn though. Ideally, the city needs to focus on creating density downtown (which they are) and creating high quality density along the 181 route, which is the only really frequent route in town. Creating a dense corridor would facilitate less parking problems for GRCC and create Sounder Ridership sustainably. But as things currently stand, the “nice” apartments are in Lakeland Hills and require an unreliable, and unforgiving, Pierce Transit ride or drive. Thus we are at the current juncture.

    1. I should also note that while there are some Metro/PT routes that are supposed to feed the trains they have VERY poor ridership, why? They are scheduled wonky, leaving you to wait around the station for 15-30mins and they don’t have any late runs, say around 7pm to pick up any stragglers or people with an errand downtown. This adds up to an experience which is ok-ish, if riding the bus is your only option, but not a ridership experience that is reassuring like catching the 10/11/12/49 is. This is also most people’s first interface with transit and consequently turns them off it very quickly.

      1. It’s what happens when agencies do their scheduling in silos and don’t talk to each other. The MT/PT routes you’re talking about were probably scheduled to connect with the Sounder schedule of 10 years ago. Over time, Sound Transit adjusted their schedule, but the local agencies didn’t bother to do the same.

        Things quickly give way into a circular argument. The feeders suck, so people don’t ride them/people don’t ride the feeders, so it’s not worth investing in them to make them not suck.

      2. Same problem with Pierce Transit in Puyallup, they cant/wont tweak their schedules to better suit the train. Pretty annoying, I’ll probably buy an ebike for the 2 mile trip to/from the station to where I live, missing a bus by a couple minutes or the bus almost missing the train regularly is tiring.

        High density housing is fine for some people, but not everyone wants to live in a shoebox with HOA fees and rules forever either, been there, done that, don’t like it. Which is why I made the trade off of a longer commute to live in a house+neighborhood I enjoying going home to every night. What makes it or breaks it are the connecting bus options.

  15. Parking fees used towards running more frequent local bus routes to get to the station? Sounds like a good idea to me!

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