On-demand bike eLockers at Aurora Village
On-demand bike eLockers at Aurora Village

King County Metro has put out a survey on managing their parking at park & rides.

Metro needs a push from the public to take the leap into doing management programs even as tepid as what Sound Transit has done, and are fully aware people also use their parking lots to go to businesses nearby. In fairness to Metro, Sound Transit’s permit parking program just became permanent last year. (This is an example of getting movement out of one agency where another fears to tread, as a counter-example to those calling for one monolithic transit agency.)

Though it is not the primary purpose of this survey, you can chime in about bicycle parking (or dearth thereof), pedestrian access to park & ride bus stops, and bus routing at these stops (especially when serving the park & ride with an off-street stop costs ridership up the line and does not save any time for riders boarding and alighting at that stop).

Between Metro and Sound Transit, there are just over 500 leasable bike lockers at 40 sites around the county. (Compare that with the 26,000 stalls planned for parking cars, just along the proposed light rail spine.) There are also 76 on-demand eLockers at 11 sites, all operated by Metro, but none of them at current light rail stations. However, there are now cages at Beacon Hill Station (holding 48 standard bikes) and Tukwila Sounder Station (holding 40 standard bikes), both operated by Sound Transit. Angle Lake Station will feature both eLockers and 4 bike lockers and a bike cage that can hold up to 24 standard bikes. All Sound Transit stations and major Metro facilities have bike racks.

The deadline to do the survey is Friday, August 19.

24 Replies to “Metro Seeking Input on (Automobile) Parking Management”

  1. .”.. bus routing at these stops (especially when serving the park & ride with an off-street stop costs ridership up the line and does not save any time for riders boarding and alighting at that stop).”

    As a passenger and a transit driver, always a major source of fury for me. Before the ramp from I-5 into Lynnwood Transit Center was built, a bus could lose fifteen minutes in traffic between I-5 and the center. Ever since it opened, at a time I was working in Lynnwood, have been grateful for it.

    Federal Way better- around five minute loss on the Route 574 is borderline. Though the espresso stand at the old one didn’t get replaced, the general atmosphere is Department of Corrections, and its positioning and access relative to closest shopping area indicates that’s exactly what local merchants demanded. And Metro granted.

    Ramps are an expensive fix, for sure. But lost operating time costs money too. Including both transit budgets and financial hardship on passengers who lose their jobs for reporting late to work. Both of which I wish people would start rubbing into transit agencies louder and harder. Until that ramp was built, years ago now, I really thought that Metro honestly didn’t care at all if bus travel was slow.

    Since it’s on topic here, can someone tell us how much a minute of operating delay costs for buses? DSTT LINK and streetcars too, because both have buses in their way. DSTT delays relevant because they also show that KCM would honestly rather lose a dollar per minute per passenger over delay than a penny in the farebox. And for that reason alone doesn’t deserve to be operating a transit system, especially ours.

    For parking, I think every new parking structure should have a direct ramp from a freeway or major arterial to a platform served by elevator or escalator from every parking level. At the stop near Chinatown, Portland MAX has a very good example.

    Am also curious, from a haz-mat point of view, as to whether a parking structure can safely be converted to other intensive human use, expecially residence. Anybody know?

    Mark Dublin

    1. I think the question of how much a minute of delay costs is sort of interesting, so though my knowledge is limited, here’s some napkin math.

      – There’s probably a better way to get a concrete number for Seattle, but based on this page I’ll estimate a bus costs about $120/hr to operate because it’s a nice multiple of 60. So a minute of delay might cost $2.
      – Obviously the real cost of any particular delay will vary a lot based on a variety of factors, so this is just a really general average.
      – Seattle’s most frequent routes run over 100 times per day in each direction. 200 trips per day is over 70,000 trips per year. So a one-minute delay affecting both directions of a very frequent route all day could cost $140,000 per year.
      – Of course that’s not quite how delays work — they tend to balloon during rush-hour, when the transit system is putting as many drivers and buses on the road as it can.
      – Farebox delays in the tunnel during rush hour could compound by affecting a whole line of buses behind. Still, they’re collecting enough fare revenue per minute stopped that they’re probably not literally losing money by collecting fares. The whole RFA/PAYPTTF thing is a debate for another time (i.e. 5 years ago).

  2. Brent, before writing this post, why didn’t you seek out our input and give us a survey on how you should write it?

    1. Especially in the use of titles.
      Bikes are mentioned twice as often as vehicle parking. Even the photo is of a bike locker.

      1. Is it not obvious I’m giving Metro a hard time for excluding bike parking from its survey on parking management?

      2. I think that’s the point. I’m revving up to give Metro and Sound Transit a very hard time over their bicycle policies and how bikes are (or aren’t) integrated into the mass transit system. In case that hasn’t been obvious from my multiple Open Thread posts about bike overcrowding on buses. Case in point, almost every time I’ve asked about them here, I’ve been given the suggestion of “just rent a bike locker, put your bike there, and get on a bus.” Certainly, except that the waitlist for a locker at Montlake Freeway Station is an unknown length and just the existence of a waitlist is a barrier for someone to change from getting around by car to bike+transit.

        The train, already an example of diverging policies around transit, has no such barriers. Bike riders are, unofficially it seems, allowed to cram on wherever they can while that same courtesy isn’t extended to bike riders who take the bus. (“But the bus operates in a road so there are different safety rules!” Then please explain, using small words, why bikes are allowed on the train south of International District Station.)

        If Metro and Sound Transit want to do more than just pay lip service to getting people out of their cars and into the multitude of other options around here, the infrastructure must exist and in sufficient quantity. UW Station should not have opened with anything less than 100 bike lockers, for instance. Why Sound Transit can preplan for thousands of parking spaces but completely miss any other mode (including walking, have you seen where Mt Baker Station is?) confounds me.

      3. I decided to take a visit to the Rainier Vista and the north end of Link on Wednesday. The bike parking mess at Husky Stadium Station is terrible. I can’t imagine what it is going to be like when the university is in session.

        It’s too bad that BikeLink Locations are so unreasonably placed. Renton and Issaquah get them, but not UW? TriMet has those at a number of MAX stations and other locations where bike access has proven common. They charge $0.03 per hour during peak periods and $0.01 at night so the fees aren’t too bad.

        I know that Seattle has hills and so biking is impossible for most people and all that. However, I’ve walked the Pier 91 Trail from downtown Seattle to Magnolia in December and seen dozens of cyclists using it on a weekday morning.

      4. The bike policy on Link is pretty crazy, and I can’t imagine it will stay around too much longer. Eventually we’ll limit the practice of carrying bikes onto crowded trains like so many places do. Still, buses are different because there’s less circulation space, and because movement of the vehicle is less predictable because it isn’t on rails. Even Swift (which has bike storage in the bendy part of the bus) wouldn’t let people stand anywhere. Some drivers of deadheading 520 buses allow bikes on board because there isn’t anyone else on board. In crush loads this would be nutty.

        Bike parking for Montlake buses really needs to get better. It should get better when construction is over, but even during construction the current situation (not enough lockers, rampant theft outside of lockers) isn’t acceptable. Bike lockers aren’t all that expensive, can be moved, and don’t take up a ton of space.

      5. Not to mention, there is a lot of otherwise wasted space where bike lockers could go under the ramp and stairs.

      6. Why Pronto hasn’t moved a dock next to the UW Station (instead of in front of the UW Hospital, about a five minute walk) is beyond me. If I were king of the forest, there would be a Pronto station there and one at Rainier Vista and Stevens Way. As it is, I do the five minute walk to the Pronto station and ride to 11th and Campus Parkway and once in a blue moon I actually catch up to the bus I’d just miss walking to the Rainier Vista stop (which doesn’t have so much as a freaking bench).

      7. One important thing if you’re going to raise the economic price of parking (by reducing supply so you have to compete to be the first one in the lot, or by charging for it) is to provide other options (make the demand more elastic). When my free parking at work became not-so-free and I realized the Park & Ride at Northgate filled up quickly, I switched to biking to the express buses. The BikeLink lockers at Northgate transit center helped me a lot before the ULink expansion and Metro restructure sped up my local bus options.

        This video shows the bike parking options in San Francisco, where the on-demand lockers and cages are much more widely deployed and used to access transit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00ErGZuxk7A

        I’ve never applied for Seattle’s more common dedicated lockers because I wouldn’t use them every day and because I take various routes via Northgate, UW campus and ULink depending on what errands I need to run, so having a dedicated locker at a single destination wouldn’t be as useful to me.

        Parking at transit stations seems like a classic case of “if you plan for cars and traffic, what you get is cars and traffic.” The incentive has to move away from driving to the transit center and toward walking, transit-oriented design, bike access (including bike share) and lane priority for buses (local feeder buses as well as RapidRide and Express). A certain amount of car access will always be necessary, but it should be managed so that it’s not simply the default.

    2. You wrote a post without first polling your customers on what kind of post they want to read. You don’t consider that reckless and irresponsible?

      Metro, do your job. Study other systems. Incorporate the best features into your plan. Don’t ask people with room temperature IQ’s who’ve emerged from their mother’s basement to run around Bellevue Park trying to “catch ’em all” what they want.

    3. This very comments section is the place to put your thoughts. Many STB articles are not meant to finish a topic but to introduce an idea and let the rest evaluate it. Micromanaging the introduction of an idea is silly. When you meet somebody and they ask, “How are you?”, do you stop them after the “How” to negotiate how you want them to ask the question?

  3. Wait a minute. What did Brent do wrong? I don’t think this is the first time a posting called attention to a Metro survey. Brent thinks taking this survey is beneficial for transit. Does anybody think it can do transit any harm? If you do think so…just don’t take the survey.

    Also, before you savage poor Brent, basic decency demands you at least poll each other about defending Metro’s tunnel operations from me. Brent would if you hadn’t all demoralized him.

    I’m not demanding that voters, or blog commenters, all get red cardboard signs and show up at King County Council and ST Board meetings and getting up at public comment yelling with a Russian accent that transit is in the hands of multi-billionaires who hate freedom. And bikes. Just because they’ve got a survey.

    Those poor King County transit police who have to sit through meetings in case one certain single such person shows up probably agree with him by now, and so will just let you all wait your turn. Though they will intervene to save Brent.

    And Sam, apologize to your mother right now! You know she kept that door locked for a reason. After she kept you someplace nice and cool where your poor brain couldn’t thaw out. And now it’s 90 degrees!

    But ’til the legislature gives Western State enough money for some new butterfly nets, hope you don’t catch any of those things running around. Cats will claw you into a brillo pad, squirrels carry rabies, and ducks will peck you full of holes like you’ve been shot with a .44. Like in that Stagger Lee song.

    One more word out of you and I’ll give you the link.


  4. The survey says that Metro P&Rs currently allow people to park their vehicles for 72 hours, but are “considering” reducing it to 24 hours (what ST allows). Why the heck would they allow 72 hours to begin with? This isn’t street parking (and I object to allowing 72 hours on the street, but that’s another matter), and it certainly isn’t parking intended to allow people to abandon their vehicles for long periods of time. If the parking is supposed to be for commuters, 72 hours makes absolutely no sense.

    1. How many people are doing two-car commuting (car to transit to car)? With old, depreciated cars pretty worthless a lot of people in Southern California do that. They leave a beater car overnight at the station to give them flexibility and not rely on infrequent shuttles.

  5. I strongly urge anyone who fills this out to ask for the best parking management practice available, aka daily parking rates where rates are routinely raised to ensure parking lots near rarely exceed 95% occupancy. If the county wants to add a low income rate so be it, but in the survey they say a daily rate would be set by the council. That would be a big mistake. Straightforward pricing designed to manage supply and ensure access for people who need it is the way to go.

  6. Seattle needs more bike cages. The MBTA in Boston, a mostly broken transit agency running a mostly broken transit system, is way ahead of Seattle on this. They have a whole host of large covered bike cages with controlled entry and security cameras. And they make it easy to use them: you just register your CharlieCard (their Orca) online for free, and it will get you into the cages. Link should have these at least at every underground station.

  7. You all are assuming that the bike situation at Husky Stadium is because of ST and Metro not caring. The truth is that the UW is very demanding about where stops, bikes, lockers, etc. can be located due to the “iconic” nature of their campus.

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