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.