By Tom Rubin
Transit is not always an alternative to parking capacity.
The ridership for the Los Angeles Subway (now Red and Purple Lines) was
projected at 298,000 in 2000, the year it opened. In the best years, the
total barely got over half of that. What is interesting is that the stations South of the Hollywood Hills have always been far under their projections, but the two in the San Fernando Valley have far exceeded theirs. The ONLY stations with parking are the two in the Valley and Union Station and Metro had to increase parking in North Hollywood, and charge for it.
Sound Transit (greater Seattle) constructed its first light rail line without any parking, under the belief it was not necessary, because those that wanted to use transit would walk, bicycle, take a bus, or kiss-and-ride. Unfortunately, initial ridership was far under the projections.
Parking is important to make transit work.
Particularly for suburban commuter rail stations, parking is essential. There is simply no way to run transit through low-density single-family detached subdivisions that can offer low-walk distance, frequent service to stations. If there is no parking, people will simply not use transit.
It is very fair to charge for parking at transit stations because such parking can be very expensive to build and operate. However, if the charge is too high, it may restrict demand. A frequent tactic is to start with “free” parking, but announce that this will be reconsidered based on demand. It is very common to have to, or at least want to, add parking at transit stations as demand builds. Sometimes this is possible, sometimes it is very difficult or very expensive, or both, but, parking capacity should be part of the consideration when the transit line is first planned and approved. For older lines with demand, see what can be done and do what can be done.
If there is not enough parking at a transit station, drivers will make do by parking anywhere they can find a place to park nearby, in shopping center lots, on residential streets, and any and all other places you can think of. This tends to make the neighbors and businesses upset, so, it is important to understand that as demand increases you need to have a plan in place to respond.
This is a different way to think about pubic transit. Focus on reducing commute traffic during peak hours by increasing parking capacity at the stations. That was the thinking behind the parking garage hubs. Let people drive themselves home. How many double parked delivery vehicles could be eliminated if people did their own shopping on the way home? More people might go out at night if it was less of a challenge to get around.
Making the Most of Transit: Density, Employment Growth, and Ridership around New Stations
By Jed Kolko, with research support from Marisol Cuellar Mejia, Davin Reed, and Eric Schiff : ppic.org (excerpt) Public Policy Institute https://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/report/R_211JKR.pdf (pages 21-22)
Summary In 2008 California adopted Senate Bill (SB) 375, which requires the integration of land use and transportation planning to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicle miles traveled (VMT). A prime example of such activities is transit-oriented development (TOD), the targeting of residential, commercial, or mixed-used development to areas around transit stations…
“Employment Patterns Affect Transit Use More Than Residential Patterns Do”… (more)
Continue reading “Parking Near Transit Increases Ridership During Peak Commute Hours”