Issaquah Transit Center Credit: Sound Transit

Sound Transit will extend its paid permit program at park-and-ride facilities to include solo drivers. The assurance of a guaranteed spot could cost commuters as much as $90 a month if Sound Transit charges the average market rate for these spaces.

Currently, carpools with two or more riders are eligible to purchase a $5 parking permit for nine park and ride locations: the Angle Lake Station, Auburn Station, Federal Way Transit Center, Issaquah Transit Center, Kent Station, Puyallup Station, Sumner Station, Tukwila International Boulevard Station and Tukwila Sounder Station. Metro has a similar program at 15 other park-and-rides.

Sound Transit began selling these HOV parking permits in 2016, which gives commuters access to priority parking areas during the morning rush hour on weekdays. Spaces in permit zones open up for general use after the morning rush hour and on weekends. Up to 50% of parking spaces at each station are reserved for permit holders.

Sound Transit manages about 11,800 parking spaces across 37 owned and leased facilities in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties.

During yesterday’s Operations and Administration Committee meeting, Abby Chazanow, a transportation planner at Sound Transit, told board members that a 2014 pilot project showed there was “quite a bit of demand and a strong willingness to pay” among commuters.

Chazanow said October results from a monthly parking survey found 20 of the 37 locations were at or above 90% full and 12 locations were 100% full, resulting in cars parking in unauthorized areas.

For a park and ride location to be included in the current permit parking program the facility must have a 97% or greater utilization over three consecutive months or serve a Link Station, and Sound Transit must have the authority to manage parking through pricing. Sound Transit is prohibited from charging parking fees at any parking facility that received funding from WSDOT, such as the South Everett Freeway Station.

In the second phase of developing a paid parking policy, Sound Transit is looking to expand the parking permit program to include drivers of single occupancy vehicles.

Sound Transit staff did not recommend a price for the SOV parking permit, but Chazanow said a $15 monthly fee would cover administration costs while the average market rate value was around $90 per month.

Early in 2018, Sound Transit plans to begin outreach on the expanded program, with implementation of the SOV parking permit program anticipated in the third quarter of 2018.

Other possible changes to the parking program include eliminating the $5 fee for carpools and loosening facility utilization requirements to 90% or greater, which would qualify the Edmonds and Mukilteo Stations for the program.

The agency is also considering only offering these parking permits to residents living in the Sound Transit taxing district,  applying an out of district fee, and/or giving SOV ORCA LIFT commuters a discount from 50% to 100% off the monthly permit price.

Chazanow said the next phase of permit parking program may include daily parking fees.

71 Replies to “Sound Transit Expanding Parking Permit Program”

  1. This is a nice development, but ST should pilot pay-per-use parking at some point. PPUP more efficiently delivers the benefits of marketizing the parking supply.

  2. Reserved sov spaces are even more inefficient than unreserved sov spaces, because when that one person to whom the space is reserved to is on vacation, no one else can use it.

    Also, watch some of the “reserved” spaces at Eastgate going to Bellevue College students.

    1. Bellevue college has a sea of parking lots and its own 4 story parking garage. Besides The P&R lot fills up before 7:00 AM. When all the parking on campus is still available and never full.

      1. Bellevue College has 3,850 parking spots, but charges for parking. Meanwhile the Eastgate P&R is free. Hence why some students park at the P&R. King County Metro has stepped up enforcement recently, with apparently good results.

        Eastgate seems to have taken the brunt of the South Bellevue P&R closure (along with Mercer Island), which is contributing to it filling up earlier.

    2. The reserved parking is only during the morning peak; at 8:30am the spot becomes available for anyone.

      Under the current HOV program, Sound Transit verifies that you’re actually using transit via ORCA records; you need to ride at least 3 days per week to maintain qualification. I would think they’d continue using a similar verification system for SOV permit parking. So Bellevue College students could get a permit for Eastgate, but not keep it.

  3. Can’t argue against people paying for their parking. But I like preference by privilege a lot less. A bad habit the whole ST district has been developing more blatantly by the day through these last four years’ economy.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Mark, in general, I’m a lot more market-skeptical than a lot of folks here, but I think the case for markets is a lot stronger when cars are involved. Especially if the net revenue from paid parking can go towards providing improved bus service that benefits people who cannot afford cars.

      1. [OT]
        Enabling people of all present brackets to ride transit to increasingly better-paid jobs. Which will then put them in the higher parking brackets. Thereby increasing revenue for transit, which will itself cut down demand for parking space ’til structures get converted to housing.

        The wealthy people I admire have all earned their money making products that weren’t ORCA arrangements. And are therefore likely to drive a beaten-up 2001 Prius into a space they gladly pay $500 a month to park. And consider their car-tabs a responsibly tight-fisted investment.



      2. Mark, the administration costs associated with having everyone submit proof of income with their parking permit application would be prohibitive. I can’t think of a single example of a purchaseable commodity that is priced progressively. Do they charge you for milk or rent or shoes on a sliding progressive scale based on income? No, that’s why things like EBT and rent vouchers and ORCA Lift exist.

      3. Allocation by income would raise the cost way too much. It’s an administrative nightmare.

    2. Probably why they’re considering, “giving SOV ORCA LIFT commuters a discount from 50% to 100% off the monthly permit price.”

      1. That could be a loophole large enough to drive an SUV through. With ORCA LIFT qualification going up into the middle class, a free parking space could go to someone who just doesn’t want to take the bus rather than having no bus available, even though paying for a parking permit would be easier for them than for those in deep poverty.

    1. Well, I mean, that’s up to them, isn’t it? And as far as I know arenas and stadiums already do. It’s not free to park at sporting events. But I’m not sure we can or should *force* museums to charge for parking.

  4. Sound transit has a popular product that people like. Rather than increasing capacity they are going to make it harder/more expensive for people to use. How about increasing parking capacity. I know it is Seattle dream to have everyone ride a bike and take public transportation, but that isn’t a reality in the suburbs. Some of you will say, don’t live so far out of the city. Well, Seattle also makes it super difficult for people to move into the city by not allowing changes to the code to allow multi-family housing in their neighborhoods.

    1. Parking doesn’t scale very well. Increasing parking capacity would cost money that could be better spent on improved transit service. Charging for the existing parking capacity raises money that can then go towards improved transit service, making the region more accessible for people who can’t afford a car.

    2. Have you seen how expensive structured parking is these days? The Auburn Station parking expansion is running $120k+ per stall. So yes, while more parking would be nice in the suburbs, it would cost an obscene amount of money.

      Managing the parking (meaning charging for some or all of the parking) we have is a prudent measure to maximize the utility of the system, although the equity issues can’t and shouldn’t be ignored.

    3. It’s about managing demand. If you give away a valuable resource for free, then obviously people are going to demand a lot of it. Adding more parking might lure people who currently walk/bike/transit to the P&R to drive instead because driving and parking just got easier, and then in 5 years people will be clamoring for even more free parking.

      It’s like trying to fight obesity by loosening your belt.

    4. Who will pay to buy the land and build the parking, which is very expensive. Right now non-drivers are subsidizing drivers’ parking at a significantly higher rate than a regular transit subsidy.

    5. There is a pretty simple solution:

      1) Charge for parking.

      2) Put the money into satellite parking as well as connecting bus service.

      Small, satellite parking spaces tend to be much cheaper, and a lot easier to get to. But they are only beneficial if it easy to get from there to your destination. A good example of this exists for the 41. This is a small church parking lot that doubles as a weekday park and ride: The 41 goes by there, and then swings by Northgate, and on to downtown. It is much easier for folks in the neighborhood to go there.

      In contrast, as mentioned, large parking lots don’t scale. Making matters worse, a lot of the suburban train stations and express bus routes are next to the freeway. These are terrible places to park. If they do build a huge parking lot there, it means that a driver has to drive farther, then get stuck in traffic, then go around and around, looking for a parking spot (just as a lot of people do at the airport). Satellite parking, with connecting bus service (funded by park and ride revenue) makes a lot more sense.

    6. Mike, you might have noticed that I’m trying to figure out how we reorganize the living patterns since World War II that have now left us both trapped by sheer number of cars, but so badly spread out we can’t do line haul transit.

      Image that keeps coming to mind is development pulled in along corridors like I-5. And also what I keep calling “Streetcar Suburbs , as they really were before they were replaced by communities deliberately design for permanent life requiring more than one car per family.

      Starting with deliberate design to be served by bus transit whose rights-of-way can be grooved rail-ed when it’s time. Also, feeders where light rail can branch off a main line, using cars that can handle both street curves and mainline speed. Like the Interurbans used to.

      So question for you. What’s your town, city, or county willing to do to let transit run faster, local as well as express? Reserved lanes? Signal pre-empt? Encouragement for developer to build transit-friendly from the get-go? Remember, the Streetcar Suburbs were designed by developers themselves as selling points.

      You see my point? What do you think your neighbors and local government will think? Because length and density of present blockages are bound to be costing enough money that a lot of somebodies are already looking and planning.


      1. I’m trying to reorganize living patterns too. But the answer to your question is, “What’s Seattle, Des Moines, etc, willing to do? What they’re doing now.” You keeo saying that the I-5 gridlock is making people want an alternative to car dependency. Then why is it so hard to get anything passed in Pierce County, and why do they keep insisting their #1 goal is bigger garages? That pisses away the money that might be used for more extensive transit. And it does nothing for those who don’t have a car but want to get to the transit center too.

  5. Even in the suburbs, there are people who NEED p&r access, and others who can substitute to a local feeder bus or walk to a bus stop at just a small cost in convenience.

    Pricing parking is part of how we prioritize spaces at popular P&Rs for those who don’t have reasonable substitutes.

    1. All true. I know a lot of working parents whose kids need to get to after-school activities and then home. Transit isn’t currently set up to do that well – doesn’t help when our roads squiggle so much we can’t have transit on a grid like in Seattle where every X blocks there’s a bus every 15 minutes or more frequent.

    2. If parking is free, a lot of people who do have feeders or are within walking distance will fill up all the spaces because they don’t want to ride a local bus or transfer, and the poor person in an isolated location will be shut out anyway. That’s what happens at all these lots that are “full by 7am”.

      1. The problem with feeders is that when they run every 30 minutes (as most in the suburbs do), you’re going to be stuck waiting up to 30 minutes, depending on schedule and traffic. Then you need to walk from wherever it drops you off to where you live. Even if you assume a 15 minute wait and a 10 minute walk (because, for example, you need to cross an arterial), that’s almost an hour a day you’re losing compared to driving. Realistically speaking, you’re going to need to run feeders at least every 15 minutes, preferably every 10, before you convince people to take them.

        This is also why people hate connections. I often connect from the 54x to the 257/311 at Yarrow Point – all popular routes. Even though there are 5 257/311’s between 5:30 and 6:30, there are too many times when I’ve had to wait 20 minutes for one and then two or three show up within minutes of each other. This is not how you convince people to transfer to a feeder bus.

      2. Also, let me just add that the same thing applies to people who can walk to the bus they need. If the buses are every 30 minutes and you miss your bus by a minute, then you have to wait 30 minutes. So if you’re running late and your normal walk is 10 minutes, then you will take a car to save yourself 5 minutes and make your bus. If you make the frequencies every 10-15 minutes, then people can just wait 5 minutes for the next one.

  6. This will disproportionately hurt poor people’s ability to get to their job. There are many reasons people live in the suburbs. One of which is their Seattle job does not pay them enough money to afford to live in Seattle, especially if they have a family to take care of.

    This will also put more cars on the road. People will do the math and realize it’s cheaper to drive to Seattle than it is to pay $90 a month plus the $5+ each way to park at the park and ride and ride the train into work.

    1. The reason poor people can’t find parking is non-poor people don’t want to ride a feeder and fill up half the parking spaces. It’s the same with street parking, where people with SUVs park because it’s cheaper than a garage and then disabled people who can’t walk a block can’t find a space.

      1. You’re making a pretty big assumption that people don’t ride feeders because they just don’t want to. People don’t ride feeders because they don’t exist, or if they do they would add an hour or more to an already long commute.

      2. Yes, there are some people that effectively have no choice. But there are plenty of others out there who drive to the P&R simply out of laziness (e.g. not wanting to walk three blocks), particularly those with an early enough schedule where finding parking once they get there isn’t a problem.

        In many cases, like South Kirkland P&R, the “feeder” bus is the same bus that goes all the way to Seattle, yet people still drive to the P&R to save 5 minutes of walking to the bus stop, plus 2 minutes of time the bus spends stopping at bus stops before it gets to the P&R. That’s what happens when parking is free. When parking is paid, the people who can easily get on the bus further back will do so, while those that truly have no alternatives can just pay the parking fee.

      3. Julie, I agree that some amount of parking is necessary for those who don’t have a feeder. That’s why we built P&Rs in the first place. But when half the spaces are taken up by people who can’t be bothered to use the feeders they have, then those spaces aren’t available for people who need them more. Charging for parking is also problematic if poor people can’t pay the fee. But if you subsidize the parking down to zero or almost zero, then the same space hogs fill up the spaces and the poor person can’t get a space anyway. So this is a case where a subsidy for everybody is not the way to go.

      4. How are you getting your numbers? I have a hard time believing that half the people who park at stations and transit centers live within walking distance of the station or a feeder bus. You really think that large numbers of people leave their house, start their car, drive three blocks, drive into a parking garage, drive around looking for a spot, park, go down multiple flights of stairs to get to the train and then do all that in reverse in the evening?

      5. 19% of all cars at the Mercer Island P&R are registered within a mile of the garage. People literally drive over from a few blocks away even though they could easily walk. Pricing some of those users out of the garage creates more space for users who don’t have other good alternatives.

      6. Dan, a one mile radius around the P&R is not the same thing as a few blocks. For example, I used to live within a mile of the Kingsgate P&R. But to get there, you had to walk 1.6-2 miles (depending on whether you preferred a steep hill or no sidewalk).

        Then there’s the issue that one mile is not something everyone can walk. Sure, 2 flat blocks most people can. But asking people to walk even one mile with no sidewalk, up a hill, etc.. is not going to happen. Maybe a quarter to half mile. Some people may need to wear dress shoes (e.g., heels) but have nowhere to put a change of shoes.

        I’m not saying more people shouldn’t walk. But I don’t think we can just say – oh, they’re within a mile of the P&R, they shouldn’t be walking.

    2. In the broad sense paid parking is better for those who value time more than money, and worse for those who value money more than time. But there are differences in details, obviously. For instance, it is good for those who arrive late (still empty spaces) and bad for the early birds (no space for free now). More predictability of parking spot availability should lead to better decisions and less wasted time. Another side of the story: ST will collect more money now. It should translate to lower fares over time, in this way benefiting the poor too.

      I fail to see how it leads to more driving, unless the system is mismanaged and the lots stay empty. Currently you still have to drive to Seattle because all the P&R fills up by 7am…

      1. Not lower fares, more bus service, so that more people can use transit conveniently. We still haven’t maxed out on that.

    3. This is probably only going to be a small percentage of the total spaces, and with prices way below market rate, so your argument about this hurting the poor is somewhat of a straw man argument.

      I’m guessing the sov permits will end up costing about the same as the carpool permits, which basically means just enough to cover the cost of administering the permits, ignoring the much higher cost of building the parking itself.

    4. So, Mike, on what planet is parking at the Park and Ride gonna be cheaper than parking in Seattle?

      1. If it costs $11 round trip for train plus $90/12 days then that is around $7.50 a day. I can find all day parking for less than $18.50 a day.

      2. $90/20 days =$4.50
        The only train trips that would be $11 round trip are Lakewood or South Tacoma to Seattle, neither of which are likely to see paid parking any time soon. Try looking at Kent, Auburn, Sumner, and Puyallup to Seattle: $8-9.50 per day. $12.50-14 per day, and that is only if you don’t have an employer-provided ORCA card, which many people who work downtown have.

    5. This will disproportionately hurt poor people’s ability to get to their job. There are many reasons people live in the suburbs. One of which is their Seattle job does not pay them enough money to afford to live in Seattle, especially if they have a family to take care of.

      Evidence, please. Seriously, I’m looking at Redfin, and I don’t see it. If you do a search for houses at under 300 or 400 thousand, you can see plenty in Rainier Valley. Many of those are within the city limit. You also see a bunch on the other side of the Duwamish, at a similar latitude. Looking north, I see none in Shoreline, and only a smattering in Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood. It isn’t until you get to Everett that prices start reaching the levels that are common in Rainier Beach. Oh, and the East Side — very, very little that is affordable.

      Yet the park and rides are everywhere. This would apply to those in Shoreline, and those in Bellevue, and those in lots of places that contain houses that are way more expensive than those in Rainier Valley. I’m looking at the park and ride map for Rainier Valley, and I see very, very few, compared to the more expensive places.

      This will also put more cars on the road. People will do the math and realize it’s cheaper to drive to Seattle than it is to pay $90 a month plus the $5+ each way to park at the park and ride and ride the train into work.

      I’m reminded of the Yogi Berra line, “no one goes there anymore, it’s too crowded”. What you are saying simply doesn’t make sense. The transit agency is going to charge for parking. They will charge enough so that the lots are full, but they make money. That is why they are focused on lots that are full, not every single lot. Heck, they won’t even charge for the entire lot! The few folks that wake up early, and manage to get the spot, will still get the spot. It is just that other people, who are willing to pay for it, will not have to wake up so early.

      If anything, folks who get there late are disproportionately poor. If you have to drop your kid off at the day care (and can’t afford to drop them off any sooner), then chances are, you are struggling. In that sense, it is not that different than the HOT lanes. Yes, there are a handful of very wealthy people, who don’t care about money, find themselves driving during rush hour to Kent, and are willing to shell out an extra couple bucks to get there a bit faster. But there are way more who find that being late (or being early) is way too expensive for them.

      1. @Julie — I did look south. Rainier Valley is south — but not that far south. More to the point, there are very few park and ride lots in Rainier Valley. Yet Rainier Valley (and similar places to the east) remains one of the most affordable places in the county. You have to go all the way down to Federal Way and Auburn to even match the number of places north of 405. A lot of those places actually have decent transit, since the most affordable places tend to be on busy streets (where the buses run). Heck, some of the more affordable places in Auburn happen to be within walking distance of the train. Heading further south, you find the biggest cluster of affordable places in Tacoma, which again, is not an area where transit is driven by park and ride lots. Tacoma doesn’t have great transit, but for a lot of people, they can get a bus to where they want to go (and many aren’t trying to go to Seattle, but to downtown Tacoma). The biggest cluster in Tacoma seems to be south and east of I-5 (where I-5 takes a turn) and there are very few park and rides there (but bus service).

        The assumption that you have to go way out to the boonies to find an affordable house, and then have to drive to a park and ride (as your only option) is just not the case. The vast majority of riders using park and ride lots are doing OK.

  7. For those of us who live in the suburbs who have been waiting patiently for light rail to reach us and have been paying our ever increasing ST taxes for over 20 years now, this has the feel of a bait-and-switch scheme. For many suburban residents, there is no walkable feeder route available even for those people without mobility issues. The financial impact on the potential transit user from imposing a parking fee at market rates would be significant enough to discourage transit use at all. The combination of the (heavily subsidized) fare expense and market rate parking fee expense versus paid parking at the suburban transit user’s destination may indeed tip the scale away from the transit agency’s ultimate goal with regard to suburban ridership.

    1. As Link builds out county buses will be rescheduled with additional feeder routes and fewer freeway routes

      1. You make a fair point, and I do hope that plan actually comes to fruition. As far as CT is concerned, based on their current long range planning, I don’t get a sense of confidence in their ability to make your assertion a reality.

        Take a look at their 2011 adopted Long Range Plan (which was supposed to be updated in 2015 but apparently has not been). Essentially it shows the total bus service hours doubling from 500,000 hours in 2008 to just over 1 million hours in 2030. However, almost 400,000 of those additional hours will go towards Swift and arterial lines.

        The relevant section begins on page 21, in case you’re interested.

      2. Swift is where the highest ridership is and the greatest transformative potential is. It’s “poor man’s light rail”. Everett-Shoreline Swift will go to 185th Station. Edmonds – Silver Firs Swift will go by Lynnwood Station. Bothell – Mukilteo Swift will go to the Seaview Transit Center. It doesn’t get every neighborhood to Link directly but it gets some of them, and it meets Snohomish County’s needs. When I’ve ridden CT’s local routes recently, I’m impressed with how well they’re anchored, with a transit center at both ends, and going to the transit centers people in an area most want to go to. The buses are also pretty fast because they streets are wide and less traffic than in King County. The biggest problem is frequency and span, and that’s precisely the problem that Swift intends to fix.

      3. You make a fair point [about feeder buses] and I do hope that plan actually comes to fruition. As far as CT is concerned, based on their current long range planning, I don’t get a sense of confidence in their ability to make your assertion a reality.

        If there is one thing I’ve learned here, it is that transit changes are driven by public involvement. You can’t depend on the transit agency to make the right choice, even when that choice is obvious (like adding a stop at NE 130th, or providing ORCA service for the monorail). When the time comes (if not before) folks in the suburbs need to push for better feeder service. This is a pain, but the sad reality of the situation.

        As I’ve said many times now on this post, I think the key is to have both satellite park and rides as well as feeder bus service. That is really the best of both worlds. You please both groups of people (those that like park and rides and those that don’t. But that won’t happen without public pressure. Right now, you have people demanding bigger (and free) park and rides, along with a handful of people asking for better feeder service. Neither is cheap. A system of feeder bus service serving park and ride lots along the way is a much better value.

    2. What is the “bait” that’s been switched out? No parking has been removed, and ST is building expensive new parking garages in the places they said they would. I’d imagine that if P&R spaces are empty because the price is too high then ST would simply lower the parking fee. That’s what “market rate” means. I don’t think there’s ever been a “free parking in perpetuity” guarantee any more than there’s been one that fares will never go up.

      1. Please show me where ST suggested that such parking would come with an additional user fee when the agency put forth their heavily marketed ballot measures? Furthermore, your “free parking in perpetuity” is simply a straw man type argument. Finally, the whole system is expensive to build, including said parking spaces. (Btw, parking has been removed. The UW was certainly the beneficiary ($) of lost parking at Husky stadium.)

      2. It’s no more of a straw man than “show me where ST suggested that such parking would come with an additional user fee.” I’m fairly sure that fares will be higher by the time ST3 projects are built, yet I don’t expect Sound Transit to include that in ballot measures either. My point is that policies change. Hopefully they do so in a thoughtful manner, like a pilot program implemented in a few places that later expands in coverage and scope after the agency sees how effective it is.

        I completely agree that the whole system is expensive to build, which is why I think it’s more than a little silly to provide free car parking. Charging a modest parking fee in places where space is limited and/or expensive to provide seems reasonable. It seems unreasonable to expect that the agency could forecast the details of changes to their operations plans years in advance.

      3. Free parking may have been the default assumption in the 1990s, but if ST had really promised no-fee forever then it wouldn’t be doing it now because it could easily get sued and lose.

        How was the UW the beneficiary of parking removed? The space wasn’t ST’s to eliminate; it belongs to UW. We’ve already been over how ST can’t eminent-domain UW.

      4. Mike Orr. Regarding the mitigation expense incurred by ST relating to construction and operation of the UW station….

        “Section 4.3.3 of the MIA available online at
        executed-mia.pdf provides, in relevant part:

        “4.3.3. Parking. The University accepts the responsibility to mitigate the
        loss of a maximum of 600 parking spaces that will be lost on a temporary basis as a result of Sound Transit’s construction in the C-12, E-11 and E-12 Parking Lots. The University also accepts the responsibility to
        mitigate up to a maximum of 100, of the 600, parking spaces thought to
        be permanently lost as a result of Sound Transit’s long term facilities
        associated with the University of Washington Station. In return Sound
        Transit will pay to the University Ten Million Dollars ($10,000,000)
        upon execution of this Agreement.”

        Again, I never implied “free parking in perpetuity”. I do know what was the official agency parking policy (adopted in 2002) in effect when ST2 was approved. I also know what was told to me by two different ST spokespeople at two separate community presentations leading up to that Nov 2008 vote.

    3. Tlsgwm, I’ve always thought it was a credit to both the suburbs and Sound Transit that nobody has “bailed” over the length of time it’s taking to get the track built out.


      But I’ve also always felt that bus service could have been, and still could be, much better. Should have been a lot more sustained pressure for all subareas to get whole networks of reserved lanes and pre-empted signals.


    4. Keep in mind, so far they only plan on charging if the lot is full. So that means that you can’t possibly lose ridership.

      As far as lack of alternatives go, this is where my previous comment applies ( You are absolutely right — plenty of people who live in the suburbs have no alternative when it comes to feeder buses. Even after the bus routes get altered, they are stuck. But we shouldn’t have to choose between good connecting service everywhere (which is unrealistic) or gigantic park and ride lots next to the freeway. There should be smaller satellite park and ride lots scattered throughout the region, with bus routes connecting them with the freeway stop.

      Here is an example: Getting from Meadowdale High School to downtown Seattle is a huge pain. Even during rush hour, when service is at its best, it takes about an hour and a half. You either go up and around, via 148th ( or work your way south, to Mountlake Terrace ( This is from the high school, which is right on the bus line. It is much worse if you live in the surrounding areas (which have no service at all) and have to drive somewhere. Even some of the apartment dwellers aren’t in great shape. From Bradford Park apartments ( there is a long walk to the nearest bus stop, which means a long trip to downtown. If you leave at 8:00 AM, the fastest route not involving a car is to actually walk for about a half hour to the Swamp Creek Park and Ride, then catch the 413 ( For those who have a car, the best option is to either drive to that park and ride, or one of the others.

      The Swamp Creek Park and Ride is the type that I like, or at least, it is moving in the right direction. It is big, but not enormous. It isn’t close to I-5, but on a major arterial (making it “on the way” to a certain extent). But my guess is, it is full as well.

      The answer then it to extend the 413, beyond it and look for more park and rides. Something like this could work, even though it makes a bit of a loop: This ends at a church, which could easily be a relatively big park and ride (around 70 spots). Along the way, it runs by the public high school. I could see the city carving out space for daytime only parking in the school’s enormous lot. The spots close to the road make sense for commuters, but not for those attending (or teaching at) the school. Those spots probably rarely fill up, unless there is a ball game (when the park and ride would be closed).

      A bus route like that (along with the park and ride lots) would provide a much faster trip for those in the area, and serve the apartments that are close to 168th (which has no service right now, west of SR 99). It takes some work and creativity to make this sort of thing successful. Someone who works for the transit agency needs to seek out, and negotiate park and ride spots, then build the bus routes around them. But that is much cheaper than building out existing park and ride lots, and as you build out the system, works a lot better for everyone. Build that new route, and lots of people — especially the people close to that cluster of apartments that don’t have service — will just walk to the bus stop, thus relieving pressure on all park and ride lots.

      1. Thanks for your post and I have to say that I do like your suggestion about satellite p&r lots along feeder routes. As a resident of the Meadowdale area to which you refer, I can fully relate to your examples as I’m aware of the transit deficiencies for this particular locality. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Well, my trap worked! I agree a hundred percent that adjusting parking fees to income is beyond transit accounting. Same with the whole commercial world…which does, however offer just about every kind of quality merchandise at a variety of prices.



  9. If they offer monthly but not daily parking, only people who pay monthly parking will benefit. Any of the other rush hour riders will be out of luck. They won’t be able to pay for parking if they drive only occasionally or sometimes arrive after the time when the free spots are full.

    1. And it’s an incentive to park every day, since you’ve already paid. This is a policy to benefit a minimum number of people

  10. Part of the reason why so many people feel the need to drive the P&R’s is that metro’s feeder service doesn’t do a good job connecting to it. Part of it is schedules not lining up between the feeder routes and the trunk routes, but part of it also has to do with the fact that, when the trunk route is a bus that gets stuck in traffic, no matter how you schedule the feeder route, the connection will never work out well, consistently. For instance, if you schedule the feeder bus to depart immediately after the trunk route arrives, then the slightest delay and you’re stuck at the P&R for half an hour, waiting for the next bus. Add 15-minutes of padding to the connection and now you’re stuck waiting an extra 15 minutes every single day the bus arrives on-time.

    Until the trunk route becomes rail (even buses with dedicated lanes on the highway is not good enough because much of the unpredictable delays happen not on the freeway, but at the passenger-loading stops downtown), there are really only two ways to get the feeder bus experience anywhere close to the dependability of a car parked in the garage. One option (the ideal) is to run extremely frequent feeder buses, but that option is, of course, quite expensive.

    The other option is to connect each feeder bus with an individual trip along the trunk route it’s designed to connect, so the feeder bus leaves the transit center immediately after the particular express trip it’s designed to connect to arrives, whether the incoming express bus is on-time or 28 minutes late. Sound Transit actually already does this with the 596 to Bonney Lake, and the ridership numbers I’ve seen show that the “guaranteed, timed-connection” approach actually does work.

    Of course, the downside of this approach (which may explain Metro’s reluctance to do this) is that by having the feeders wait for incoming connections, it makes arrival times very unpredictable for people that just want to use the bus for local service and aren’t coming from Seattle. This can be a big issue for routes like the 221, where you really don’t want delays on I-90 or downtown Seattle streets to affect people who are just trying to get from Microsoft to Education Hill. The tempting solution is to establish separate, overlapping routes for people making connections vs. people traveling locally, but of course, that approach ends up spreading the service too thin, leading to world in which all routes have terrible frequency.

    1. Another option is to add tails to the trunk routes. One example is the 257, which is express from Seattle to Kingsgate P&R, but then does a long local segment. A good chunk of people get on/off at the P&R, but at least half get on/off on the tail.

    2. Right, a timed shuttle can’t have any other local responsibilities, and very few routes are like that. the 596 is one of the few.

      Trunk tails bother me because they give an extraordinary benefit to one neighborhood that none of the other neighborhoods in the area have. I grew up in Bellevue and was lucky enough to live on the all-day route to Seattle. Most other places had only a peak express with a tail, or nothing within a mile or two. It really seemed unfair that a few arbitrary neighborhoods had great expresses to downtown while others had to pound sand.

      1. And many of the neighborhoods that did have rush hour Express service to downtown, that was the only service they had. Midday, they simply had no bus service.

  11. Charge market rate for parking. Dedicate the full amount earned at each garage to further subsidize neighborhood buses to that transit center.

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