You’ve got to hand it to Calgary Transit for optimism. Park-and-ride lots aren’t half-empty since the city implemented a $3 fee, they’re half-full.
That was the explanation transit officials gave the city’s transportation committee last week in an effort to explain why usage of the 33 lots across Calgary has dropped to around 60 per cent of capacity.
The numbers are stark.
The northwest and south lines saw park-and-ride lots packed to capacity prior to the new fee and now have dropped to 80 per cent and 60 per cent, respectively.
Along the northeast line, only 45 per cent of the stalls are filled as those who once regularly used the lots are now looking for cheaper options.
Transit spokesman Ron Collins insists customers will come back once they get used to the charge.
While there are no numbers to back it up beyond a $1.8-million increase in transit revenue this year, Collins said officials believe those who once parked in the lots are now taking advantage of feeder buses to get to the LRT lines.
“We want people to get out of their cars and into buses and that’s what’s happening,” he said.
But Ald. Andre Chabot, who has been a vocal opponent of the pay-to-park plan since its inception during last November’s budget, said those who haven’t opted to ditch the bus in favour of their own cars are filling nearby communities and mall parking lots in an effort to dodge the $3 fee.
The alderman said forcing transit to drop the fee on evenings and weekends was a small victory but it will do little to win back daily users who may have to shell out some $700 per year to use the lots.
It seems whenever Calgary wants to encourage something, it takes something else away.
Maybe it’s time to consider offering incentives instead of punishing taxpayers.