Budget Cuts Pit Bus Riders Against Drivers
If you're affluent enough to afford a car, you're affluent enough to afford an extra 50 cents to pay for parking. That was the calculation of Cavan Wilk, a Wheaton resident who spoke to the Montgomery County Council on Tuesday night.
Wilk was among those who think the county's parking fees should be raised to cover the cost of maintaining bus service at current levels. To balance the budget for the fiscal year starting in July, Montgomery is considering cutting some bus service and raising some fares. It would, for example, impose new charges on seniors, young people and county employees. (See details here.)
The county also is considering a plan to raise parking fees in the Bethesda Parking District and in areas outside of county parking districts. But some transit advocates would see that and raise it, at least enough to eliminate the hits that transit would take in the new budget.
Wilk, who said he takes the Red Line to Bethesda after work, enjoys an evening in downtown Bethesda and then takes the Ride On bus back home, said parking spaces shouldn't be as heavily subsidized as they are now. And the extra money raised could be used to maintain bus service.
Begging to differ was Heather Dlhopolsky, speaking on behalf of the Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce, which is strongly opposed to the parking rate increases.
In light of the dismal economy, she said, now is not the time to put this extra burden on Bethesda's businesses and their patrons. Bethesda is at a competitive disadvantage with other commercial and entertainment centers because of its higher parking fees, Dlhopolsky said.
Other speakers, including Miriam Schoenbaum representing the Transit First! advocacy group think parking fees countywide should fair game, for the sake of preserving the transit services that move more people in fewer vehicles.
April 22, 2009; 8:15 AM ET
Categories: Transportation Politics
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