Should Metro adjust parking plan?
I got a note back from Jim Engelhardt, a Virginia commuter who had asked about the reserved-parking signs at the Vienna Metro station. After Engelhardt's alert, Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel told me that the transit authority recently boosted the number of reserved spaces at the station because of an increase in demand. It does that periodically at the stations where demand exceeds supply.
Engelhardt sent this back to me on Tuesday. See what you think of his idea to change the parking system:
I counted this morning. It looks like 37+/- spaces have been taken from non-reserved parkers. To ferret out those who really will use the reserved spaces vs. those who don't on a daily basis, Metro should shelve the monthly sticker and go to a per diem, premium option for, let's say, $10.
Save a fair but reasonable amount of these spots and it could be cordoned off with an electronic arm with it set up to charge a SmarTrip card $10 (or more on big event days) to gain access. This way Metro still gets its money but fewer first come, first served patrons are disenfranchised. Right now the monthly fee ($55) is only $2 or $3 a day more than regular parking fees for those who can afford it. Therefore they may elect to pay the monthly fee even if they rarely use the spots.
I know this because a former co-worker had a reserved tag one day. I inquired as to where she acquired it. She had borrowed it from her father-in-law because he "might" go into D.C. "a couple of times a week." So theoretically, if they don't oversell the tags, that spot sits empty on the other days.
DG: In case you're wondering about the rules for reserved parking, the parking permit isn't assigned to any particular vehicle and can be transferred.
What do you think of Engelhardt's idea for a premium parking area? He's trying to address what I know is an annoyance for many commuters who arrive at the crowded lots and garages after 7:30 a.m. and have trouble finding a spot. They have to drive past empty spaces with reserved parking signs.
Here are a few thoughts:
-- The recent increase in reserved spaces at Vienna was not part of Metro's budget-balancing plan, but the Metro board is considering these parking proposals: Increase the reserved fee by $5 a month, increase the regular daily parking fee by 50 cents, increase the number of reserved spaces. (The reserved fee increase is very likely. The daily fee increase is very unlikely.)
-- How people feel about the reserved parking often depends on their lifestyles and work-styles. Early-risers or commuters with early start times are comfortable with first-come, first served. Those who get to the station later, between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m., either resent reserved parking or think it's a swell idea.
-- There's enough in the later group to create a significant constituency for reserved parking. They're paying for a guaranteed space.
-- The $10 premium parking idea follows the congestion pricing concept. That area is likely to be less crowded than regular parking, because it costs more. But it's not a guaranteed space, which is what people get with the reserved parking.
-- Under the current system, anyone can take the reserved spaces at 10 a.m. and still just pay the regular rate for daily parking. If we went for a premium parking area, those late arrivers would have to pay the extra money so they could use the spaces remaining in that area -- if there are any.
-- Metro operates its parking system about as simply as it possibly can, to maximize revenue and minimize expenses. If Metro turned over it's parking operations to a private company or companies that specialize in parking operations, we might see more variety in the options, such as Engelhardt is proposing, to accommodate different categories of parkers.
May 5, 2010; 9:10 AM ET
Categories: Congestion , Driving , Metro , transit | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail crowding
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