Metro Proposes Pilot For All-Paid Parking At Nine Stations

Should Metro parking policies
Metro may soon eliminate wasteful parking subsidies at several rail stations, including Atlantic Station in East Los Angeles. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

The Metro board will hear a promising proposal [PDF] that increases paid parking at nine stations on three Metro rail lines. According to The Source, the proposal will be presented to the Metro board this month, voted on in March, and go into effect in May if approved.

Charging for station parking was recommended under Metro’s 2015 American Public Transportation Association (APTA) review, which states: “Station parking is expensive to build and maintain” and “[parking] costs should be partially recovered to avoid giving park-and-ride customers the largest subsidies, to increase agency revenues, and to effectively manage parking supply.” APTA reviewers further stated that park-and-ride subsidizes higher income riders, decreases transit’s air quality benefits, and that it would be better to invest in convenient, frequent bus service.

Metro graph showing how rail patrons arrive at selected stations.

Metro’s figures, included in the proposal [PDF] show that, even with expensive large parking lots at stations, only 8 to 15 percent of rail riders park at the station. The majority of riders arrive by bus; approximately a third arrive by “other methods” including walking and bicycling.

Metro justifies the pilot on the basis that “non-driving transit patrons are currently under the [accurate] perception that their transit fare is subsidizing parking” with “operations of parking are currently being maintained by Metro’s annual budget without generating any parking revenue to recover a portion of its costs.” Metro estimates the pilot 9-station program is estimated to generate approximately $600,000 in annual revenue. 

Proposed Metro station parking rates, per Metro presentation
Proposed Metro station parking rates, per Metro presentation

Under the planned pilot, all Metro parking will be paid parking for the following stations:

  • Metro Expo Line: La Cienega, Culver City, Sepulveda, Bundy, 17th/Santa Monica College
  • Metro Gold Line: Sierra Madre Villa, Atlantic
  • Metro Red Line: Universal, North Hollywood.

These nine parking lots represent less than a quarter of Metro’s parking portfolio; the majority of which remains free. Many of these pilot stations already charge for some parking on a monthly permit basis, and already experience a shortage of first-come first-served free parking. Others are new Expo 2 stations expected to fill up quickly. Metro’s pilot will include a new operating plan where TAP card readers will be used to verify that people parking are actually using transit.

Streetsblog L.A. has urged Metro to end its wasteful parking subsidy policies. Free parking is a very expensive way to bolster Metro rail ridership.

While the new parking policy is an important step in the right direction, one concern is that the proposal remains fairly rigid in dealing with the very fluid realities of parking. The proposal continues the policy of the Metro board setting exact prices. Ideally, the Metro board would set specific parking policy, likely with target objectives, potentially including occupancy and revenue. From this board policy, Metro staff could manage price, increasing or decreasing price over time to meet objectives. Having the full board set exact prices could lead to localized political decisions that may not optimize the overall system.

With new phases extending the Gold and Expo lines opening in 2016, parking demand at existing and new stations may well be difficult to predict. The Metro Gold Line Sierra Madre Villa Station currently experiences higher demand as the suburban terminus of the line; when the Foothill Gold Line extension opens next month, parking demand there will likely decline as it becomes the innermost of seven parking-heavy stations across the San Gabriel Valley. A somewhat similar dynamic could occur at the Metro Expo Line Culver City Station.

Station parking demand may also vary due to gas prices, technological advances, nearby parking supply (paid or unpaid), and other factors. Rather than lock in rigid rates, Metro might be better served by empowering its staff, instead of tightly prescribing them.

The Metro board will have chances to reevaluate the pilot, including a report back scheduled for September 2016.

  • Joe Commuter

    You claim foul play when Metro wants to charge for parking. You say that paying your fare should be enough. You then compare Metro to Ralphs stating that Ralphs doesn’t charge for parking because if you drive there you are paying for the products they sell. Well, the products are marked up in price to cover the cost of creating and maintaining your “free” parking. Ralphs provides no such benefits to customers that do not drive to their stores.

    If we assume Metro simply wants to maximize ridership and revenue, it would not surround stations with parking but instead would surround stations with housing. There is a more steady stream of revenue if there are more riders and if Metro does not have to pay to build, operate, and maintain parking lots.

  • Slexie

    That’s because Ralph’s is a private business, it’s not supported by your or my tax dollars. That was my point. Ralph’s and the LA Metro are not the same thing. Ralph’s isn’t going to give you a bus shelter. Are you trolling, because I can’t believe you can’t see the difference between the two.

    The Metro is looking into development, but that is years away. Honestly, I can’t tell if you’re serious or trolling.
    Have a nice day.

  • Joe Commuter

    Buddy, you’re the one that said this, suggesting that Metro should be more like Ralphs:

    “So for those who are choosing to use transit and they drive to the
    station will pay twice, once for parking and once for the transit fare.
    I don’t agree with that. It’s not free parking if you are using the
    business for the lot. When you drive to Ralph’s and park in their
    parking lot, that is on the basis that you use their service. I don’t
    see the point of making drivers pay to park when they are already doing
    the right thing for LA by using and paying for transit.”

    Well if they are so different stop suggesting that Metro has some obligation to give free parking just because Ralphs does.

    But for the record, why can’t more private developers provide benefits to non-drivers? The Glendale Galleria recently installed some quality bike parking. The Americana across the street paid for bus shelter on Central Avenue and apparently offers free bike valet. Sometimes developers fix sidewalks. They need not only benefit the public through providing free car parking for their customers.

  • Joe Linton

    Ralphs is complying with city-mandated parking requirements

  • Slexie

    I’m a girl so don’t call me “buddy”.
    Do you not know the difference between a state run, tax paid entity and a privately run supermarket?

    YOU are the one complaining about Ralph’s marking up their prices to cover parking costs.
    YOU are free to go to another grocery store, yes? Yes.
    Are you free to go to another subway? Nope.
    Are you free to go to another bus service? Nope.
    Do your tax dollars support Ralph’s and pay to keep them afloat? Nope.
    So a privately run business isn’t required to do anything for you just because you took the bus to their store.
    Your tax dollars don’t support Ralph’s, they are not beholden to you.
    They don’t owe you a bus shelter and they couldn’t build one anyway, it’s not their job.
    Ralph’s doesn’t owe you anything, they are a privately run business with plenty of competition.
    The Metro has no competition, so whatever they say goes.
    Their bus service is terrible and unreliable, AND we are paying for it, AND we have no other alternative for buses.

    What benefit do you want? Free clothes at the mall? Free food? Unbelievable. Everyone always has their hand out and is so interested in what other people are doing. You know most people pay for their cars, right? You could have the benefit of free parking if you had a car and parked it at a grocery store too!
    I’m sorry, but you sound jealous or something and it’s kind of making you look like a crybaby.

  • Slexie


  • Joe Commuter

    Don’t worry, some of my best buddies are female. Yes, I know the difference between a public entity and a private supermarket, so don’t tell me that Metro should take a cue from Ralphs as you initially did.

    You are not obligated to ride Metro nor are you obligated to drive there so I see no problem if Metro wants to charge for parking. Some Metro systems around the world charge you to bring your bike onto a train and there is nothing wrong with this either.

    Metro doesn’t owe you free parking just because you drive to the station, why don’t you understand this? Everyone always wants a hand out and in this case you are tell the government you prefer free parking over quality transit and this makes you look like an idiot.

  • Slexie

    I’m not one of your best buddies, so it doesn’t apply to me.
    You still don’t get it. I never said Ralph’s should take a clue from the Metro. I’m giving up on that, because either you’re playing dumb, or it’s not an act.

    Who cares what other transit systems around the world are doing? How does that apply? It doesn’t.

    If your tax money is paying for public transit and that’s your only means of getting around, you’re going to need it. Of course you’re not obligated to use transit, who said that? But if you need it, there only one entity that provides it. You also don’t have a choice in funding it, and 66% of the voters decided we are all funding it. If you think it’s ok to squeeze the poor even more, for taking the subway, good for you. BTW: I live in Los Feliz, there is no parking at any transit stations near me. I’ve never parked at a transit station, but I know a lot of people that do. You shouldn’t make assumptions about people. That means you are an idiot.

  • Joe Commuter

    You implied that Metro should take a cue from Ralphs. See your comment here ( Can you acknowledge you compared Metro to Ralphs as a means of arguing against pricing parking?

    Making comparisons to other Metro systems (unlike making comparisons to Ralphs) is relevant because you state Metro should not do something because it’s unfair. That may be how you feel but more successful Metro systems elsewhere DO employ some practices you don’t like and consider unfair. Are they successful because these practices? Not necessarily but charging for parking isn’t novel and not unfair.

    You suggest that charging for parking unfairly burdens the poor by saying “if you think it’s ok to squeeze the poor even more [by charging for parking], for taking the subway, good for you.” It is mostly choice riders that drive to the stations. The poorest people are not driving to Metro stations, in fact I would venture to say that is about the least likely way for a poor person to commute. I don’t know of any surveys Metro has taken on this but I would venture to guess that the median income of park-and-ride customers is far higher than that those that walk, bike, and/or take bus to reach a Metro station. If the parking revenue goes toward improving bus service or better maintaining stations that benefits everyone but in particular the transit dependent.

  • Slexie

    Whelp, I was right. It’s not an act.

  • Joe Commuter

    “I never said Ralph’s should take a clue from the Metro.” True, you said Metro should borrow its parking policy from Ralphs, which is equally dumb.

  • Slexie

    I’ve been as clear as I can be. I can’t help it if you don’t get it.

  • M

    Nevermind that part of the problem might be that people that are NOT riding the train at all are using the parking lot all day (I live near one of the stations in this pilot. People do park in the Metro lots and go up to Universal using the shuttle saving themselves the cost of parking at Universal.) Those people were never giving metro any money and at least Metro has some chance of getting money from them now or leaving them open for real riders.

  • M

    Do you happen to have numbers on how many times someone has to use a “free” parking spot in a Metro lot before the portion of a Metro ticket that covers the cost of that single parking spot will COMPLETELY cover the initial cost of creating the parking spot, let alone maintaining the associated spot over time?

    In terms of money, it’s literally more cost effective for people from Metro’s perspective to get to the train station by walking, biking or using another bus. The only reason the number from my first question isn’t larger is because EVERY day I use the Metro and DON’T use a parking spot, the portion of my ticket money that would go to parking gets moved around to pay for the person that IS driving and using a free metro spot.

  • Slexie

    So what? Who cares if part of your ticket goes to pay for a parking space? Do you get to decide how the city allocates it’s money? Nope. What if part of your ticket goes to pay for the bus and you never use the bus? What about the gas tax? We already know the gas tax pays for roughly half of the roads, who pays for the other half? WE DO, with our taxes. Does a bus go on a road? I guess we are all paying for that, huh?

    I think it’s the dumbest thing in the world when people come on here and get all offended that they are helping to pay for parking spaces for those using the metro. If I park at the metro, (which I don’t because the ones close to me don’t have parking at all) and I board the metro, then part of my ticket is paying for that space too, right? Yup. And I guess my gas tax is paying for at least half of the road the buses run on, right? I never use the bus, so isn’t that so wrong? How dare they expect my tax dollars to be be spent on something I’ll never use! The nerve!

    We all pay taxes for things we may not use. If you feel so ripped off, write a bill or go to your city council meetings and lobby for some change. But please,, spare me the faux outrage over a parking space at a city funded lot. Public transit is pretty much all subsidized, so instead of complaining you should be grateful tax money is spent so you can get around without a car. Do transit riders pay for the bus itself, or the subway cars? Nope. So please, give me a break.

  • Mike Robertson

    [racial slur deleted]


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