Park and ride moving in right direction - Metro US

Park and ride moving in right direction

I’m not a big fan of park and ride, but creating carpool spots at LRT lots is a step in the right direction.

With a two-per-car minimum, honour-system enforcement, and only 15 spots, the pilot program isn’t ambitious, but it’s still a good sign.

Adding passengers to cars already LRT-bound reduces driving and adds riders without further clogging up parking lots.

By contrast, adding additional parking stalls is expensive and projections from a Stantec report aren’t promising.

Each new stall entices only 0.6 new riders — in emptier cars — meaning it’s not clear whether overall driving is reduced at all.

When the city was debating a parkade at Century Park, I calculated that if the charge was $14 per day, it would still take 40 years to break even.

Park and ride has its place, but that’s banking land in the outer suburbs. Parkade spots, conversely, not only take up more room per person than apartments, but are approaching them in price as well.

At $50,000 per stall, spots would be worth more than the vehicles parked on them — but indications were that the city would continue to give them away for free.

And there’s the rub. While buses and trains are increasingly expensive to use and often run empty, transit’s parking is free and swamped before 8 a.m.

Of 2,480 stalls, 95 per cent are now full by 8 a.m. Transportation Department stats show that in 2008, 450 more cars had to get there by 7 a.m. to secure a spot.

I’d like to say that only Edmonton would saddle low-income riders with the costs to give drivers a free pass, but this madness is disappointingly common.

Only a dollar a day would bring in close to $1 million dollars every year. Selling this as a monthly pass would make enforcement easy and end the frustration of never being able to find a spot.

Setting the price so parking lots remain busy would increase revenue for the same amount of parking and incentivize doubling up to increase ridership more than a few reserved spots ever will.

A transit-friendly Edmonton needs to pay attention to ways to get to transit stations that don’t encourage driving, like station-area housing, feeder buses, walking, biking, and even carpool parking.

Free parking isn’t free, and incentives for driving don’t belong in the transit budget — that money should be for getting people on transit, not off it.

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