Take Metro’s Parking Survey, Keep Up With Metro’s Parking Master Plan

Metro is promoting its parking survey via sandwich board ads, including this one at Expo Culver City. Photo: Damien Newton/Streetsblog L.A.
Metro is promoting its parking survey via sandwich board ads, including this one at Expo Culver City. The sign asks riders to text their response to 213.322.1184. Photo: Damien Newton/Streetsblog L.A.

Metro’s The Source announced an online survey in which the agency is soliciting input on its station parking. Take the survey here – participants are eligible to win a monthly transit pass. Metro’s survey is one of the first steps in Metro’s Supportive Transit Parking Program (STPP) Master Plan.

Streetsblog readers will recall that SBLA has been pretty critical of Metro’s massive investment in free parking at many of its stations. It doesn’t take a Shoupista to understand that surrounding station portals with massive parking lots does not make great places where transit riders want to go. Even Metro’s 2015 American Public Transportation Association review stressed that subsidizing parking works against Metro’s equity and environmental goals. Money Metro chooses to invest in subsidizing parking serves the roughly ten percent of Metro riders who drive, at the expense of the nearly 90 percent who predominantly arrive by foot. (link updated)

The survey is a little frustrating. As pointed out by The Source commenter Ron, the first question asks how you get to Metro’s (rail) stations. You are only allowed one answer, and this shapes what future questions you get to respond to.

Metro is posting parking survey promotional signs at some stations, but apparently not others. Damien Newton spotted the above sign at the Metro Expo Line Culver City Station, which features $2.5 million dollars worth of free parking. I haven’t seen any sandwich board signs yet at the Vermont/Beverly or Wilshire/Vermont stations, which coincidentally feature no free parking. Readers – where have you spotted these signs? Is there a pattern to where Metro is deploying them?

Also, English appears to be the only language the survey is available in. Updated: Metro’s Steve Hymon emailed: If you want to take the survey in Spanish, please text 323-688-4659 and type in the letter ‘a’ or find the Spanish survey on-line here.

Nonetheless, take the survey to get Metro’s parking plan off to a good start.

  • Herbie Huff

    Wow, this survey is terrible! It looks like they spent a bunch of money to make it look cool at the expense of neglecting really basic shit like the content of the questions. The only gender options are female and male? and you must select ONE ethnicity? These are really dumb mistakes. Wake up, Metro! It’s 2016! Geez. To all my friends who work at Metro, I implore you to fix this!

  • M

    Surveys like this are nice for getting a simple answers, but they often miss tons of details. It reminds me of the ride share surveys I get because I work in Pasadena at a decent sized company – the survey asks how you get to work and you can only choose one option of bike, walk, drive alone, train/airplane(Are these really equivalent????) or ride share. Well…. I walk or bike miles to get to the bus stop and THEN take the bus to work…. that information is completely lost when I can only select one option along with the idea that I might have taken the Metro Gold Line to work or maybe I took an airplane… who knows?!

  • The American Community Survey asks a means of transportation question that only allows one answer, but the answer is supposed to be the means that accounts for the greatest distance. I’ve seen signs for this at the Atlantic Gold Line station, which has a mostly free parking garage.

  • Howard Strassner

    I just noticed that the West Oakland BART Station is now charging $8 a day during morning peak commuting hours. They did this when they noticed that the nearby private parking lots were charging similar rates, Parking is free during non peak hours, if it is available. Transit money is always in short supply and a few thousand dollars a day is best used to provide transit for all rather than convenience for a few.

    Of course BART is a special case: The trains are quite busy during the peak and so if a driver doesn’t want to pay for parking they can go play on the freeway.

  • Robert

    If I had to pay to park to take Metro to work, I’d drive instead. End of discussion. This article even mentions that only 10 percent of riders arrive via car. That tells me that Metro is doing an incredibly POOR job of attracting commuters to its rail system and is instead focused on providing rides for those without vehicles. If Metro wants to get those in cars to take rail instead, there need to be incentives to get out of the car. Having to pay for parking is NOT an incentive.

  • calwatch

    For stations with half empty parking lots, like most Orange Line stations, I would not charge for parking, but there are many stations where parking is in huge demand, like the NoHo and Universal City stations. Also, the Green Line stations are still under the I-105 consent decree and so cannot charge for parking. There is a plan in the proposed FY 2016-17 budget to charge for parking at five stations with parking overflow demand. BART did the same thing – for stations which were not full, like North Concord, parking was free until they became full.

  • Noam.Chomsky

    Just because the article mentions that only 10% of riders arrive via car, that does not mean it is true. Especially when Joe provides a link for that quote that immediately takes the reader to an infographic showing that 25% (not 10%) of rail riders arrive via car in some fashion.

    Also, that link is for some reason to a survey that was conducted two years ago. You can find the most recent (I believe) survey data here:

    http://thesource.metro.net/2015/08/05/results-of-metros-latest-customer-survey/

    It appears the number is now 23%.

  • Joe Linton

    The ~10% number is for all Metro riders – bus and rail. You’re looking at just the rail number. The survey numbers fluctuate a bit from year to year. Metro’s survey data is here: https://www.metro.net/news/research/data-center/ The most recent survey (bus and rail combined) shows: Walked: 79% Dropped Off: 9% Drove: 5% Biked: 3% Skated: 2% Other: 3% – see document here: http://media.metro.net/projects_studies/research/images/annual_survey_results/System_Results_Spring_2015.pdf

  • Joe Linton

    The question is what Metro chooses to incentivize – and to what goal. If Metro has a couple hundred million dollars to spend, they can choose to invest in car parking, buses, trains, bikeways, walkways, etc. Investment in parking is a very expensive way to boost ridership, with minimal environmental benefits. When the agency chooses to subsidize free parking more than, say, bus or rail trips, then it is encouraging people to drive.

  • Joe Linton

    I edited the link to go to the most recent survey

  • Doug

    I agree with Robert. If i was charged a parking rate of $5 to $10 per day to ride the train, I would just drive. I also don’t think you should lump Rail and Bus riders together on how they arrive to come up with the 10% I’m aware if I arrive after 9 AM at Willow Station, it will be getting close to full. Yes, I could ride Long Beach transit to the train, but you just increased my time by 20-30 minutes and it’s a 50/50 crap shoot if the LBT will even show, not to mention they are different agencies so it would be a transfer with an additional cost.

    If Metro needs to raise funds, they should raise fares. Metro is cheaper than any other transit agency in other major US Cities. No I’m not going to pay $5-10 to park PLUS Metro Tap costs. I’ll just drive. If the fare should be $2.50 or even $4, why is Metro charging $1.75. Single one way ride on NYC Subway is $3.00. SF Muni and Chicago Transit is $2.25. Perhaps we are looking for trees but missing the forest.

  • Kenny Easwaran

    If someone else is willing to pay the price to park, then I don’t see why Metro should care whether *you* drive, if they get that other rider instead. And if no one is willing to pay enough money to park to cover the costs of providing parking, then Metro should just get out of the parking business and put housing and shops in that space instead – those will generate plenty of riders.

  • Noam.Chomsky

    I was looking at the rail numbers only because that is the most applicable data. These surveys are being conducted at park and ride locations located at major transit lines. Maybe a fraction (probably less than 3%) are parking there and then taking a local bus. If they are parking there and using Metro’s system, they are overwhelmingly taking BRT, HRT, or LRT.

    I don’t disagree that free parking is silly, but to quote system-wide statistics that agree with your narrative is either shoddy reporting or outright disingenuous.

  • Kenny Easwaran

    “If Metro wants to get those in cars to take rail instead, there need to be incentives to get out of the car. Having to pay for parking is NOT an incentive.”

    Metro shouldn’t care about getting those in cars to take rail instead. People are free to drive if they prefer. What Metro should care about is providing and affordable and convenient transportation option for as many people as possible, regardless of what is going on in the car lanes on the roads. That means they should be spending their money on providing effective train service and keeping their buses out of traffic, and not on subsidizing parking for people who have a car and want to drive, but will take the train if you subsidize them.

    If *you* want other cars off the road, then *you* should pay those people to park at a Metro station. That’s not Metro’s job.

  • calwatch

    On the other hand, when you look at some of the stations on the Orange Line or Gold Line, what development, consistent with the surrounding community, would generate riders? I doubt that any housing on the Irwindale Gold Line station parking lot would generate any more riders than the 300 parking spots currently there. Incidentally, I think that all of the Gold Line parking spots on the new extension will be full routinely by 8 am in the fall. Despite putting in two and three story structures, they only have 300-400 spaces each.

  • Joe Linton

    even if you look at the only-rail stats (latest: http://media.metro.net/projects_studies/research/images/annual_survey_results/Rail_Results_Spring_2015.pdf) 68% of riders walked – 12% drove (11% dropped off – which I don’t think needs parking) Even these only-rail numbers match what I stated in the article ” roughly ten percent of Metro riders who drive, at the expense of the nearly 90 percent who predominantly arrive by foot.” My point is that free parking privileges the few (richer) over the many (poorer) – and it bears out whether you choose rail or systemwide statistics.

  • Noam.Chomsky

    Again, I personally do not disagree that all of the lots that are currently full everyday should be switched to paid parking, and that the current parking situation benefits wealthier riders. There are plenty of innovative ways to find the exact market equilibrium that keeps them full and also generates revenue for the agency (it will be still be subsidized in some manner I assume because recouping the full cost of a parking space at a Metro lot probably isn’t feasible).

    What I disagree with is your means of making this argument (which I think can be very easily made without using misleading statistics). You linked to an infographic and quoted the bus only statistics originally, which are in no way applicable to this study. Now you have linked to the system-wide statistics, which are slightly more applicable, but still much less applicable than the rail data.

    My main point here is that you should have linked to the rail data originally (which you still haven’t done for some reason). It is objectively the most applicable data, and based on your reaction to my comments, I feel it is safe to assume you didn’t use it because it didn’t make your point as well as the bus data (and now the system-wide data). Saying parking shouldn’t be 100% subsidized is an easy argument to win, but citing irrelevant examples is not the way to go about winning it.

  • Alex Brideau III

    That certainly seems like a reasonable first step. Charge as lots hit capacity, with the initial focus on those lots that are already there.

  • Don Ward

    GREAT GREAT GREAT ANSWER. Will read again!

  • Robert

    Are you saying that Metro shouldn’t try to get MORE commuters on trains? I thought the goal was to try to get *as many people as possible* on the train, not just replace one rider with another that will pay to park?

  • Salts

    Let’s not kid ourselves, if the goal is to get as many riders as possible then stations should be surrounded by housing and not parking lots. If the price of parking is raised, the cheapskates won’t necessarily shift to driving, they might instead bike or take transit to rail stations.

  • ubrayj02

    Metro could offer free fares to those that don’t drive to the station equivalent of the subsidy it now hands out via free parking. That would help get more people on trains.

  • Kenny Easwaran

    If the parking lot is full, then raising the price of parking hasn’t lowered the number of people on the train, and cutting the price of parking won’t add to the number of people on the train. All this parking stuff just changes *which* people drive to the train station.

    Metro should want more *people* on its trains, not more *drivers* on its trains. Thus, parking is just a sideshow at any station where the parking lots remain full. The real business is getting more people to walk or bike or bus to the train.

  • Darren

    Agree with Kenny’s point about changing *which* drivers ride the train, rather than how many drivers. Assuming Metro charges a market-clearing price, paid parking may even produce more riders by encouraging some folks who currently drive alone to Metro to instead carpool in order to split the parking costs.

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