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Metro Committee Approves All-Paid Parking For 3 New Expo Stations

Yesterday, Metro's Planning and Programming Committee approved the initial phase of the agency's new Parking Management Pilot Program. The program is anticipated to begin with three new Expo station parking lots in May: Sepulveda, Bundy, and 17th Street.

The pilot is anticipated to expand to nine rail station parking lots by Winter 2016.

Here is how it will work:

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Drivers with TAP cards validate when entering the parking lot. Image via Metro
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Returning Transit Riders

Returning riders will show their TAP card to a parking attendant, who, like Metro security do, will validate that the TAP card has been used in the past few days. The driver will pay the parking attendant or show their paid monthly permit.

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Drivers without TAP cards are required to validate after riding Metro. Image via Metro
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New Transit Riders

New riders would not have a TAP card yet. They will receive an "exception ticket" which is placed on the car dashboard. After the driver parks and rides, they subsequently have to link their TAP payment to their parking, either online or in person with a parking attendant.

Approval Process

The committee discussion was energetic, with boardmembers Sheila Kuehl and Mike Bonin intent on managing the user experience at Expo stations in neighborhoods they represent. Kuehl spoke of the need to utilize Metro parking to get her constituents "who drive all the time" out of their cars.

Bonin anticipated that monthly parking passes will sell out immediately upon being made available, likely in April. Though Bonin suggested a lottery for initial permits, Metro staff responded that the plan is to make Expo Phase 2 parking permits available on a straightforward first-come first-served basis, as has been Metro's practice in the past. Historically many Metro station monthly permits have long wait lists, arguably because Metro's below-market pricing has led to permit supply being insufficient to meet demand. The parking pilot is retooling the monthly permits somewhat. Under the pilot, in order to prevent "poaching" (non-transit riders purchasing monthly permits), monthly pass holders will be required to ride Metro at least ten times per month to be eligible to renew monthly parking permits.

At one point Kuehl expressed concern that these Expo parking lots would fill up. Metro's Director of Parking Management Frank Chin responded that they will fill up and "if we don't do something, these will fill up quicker."

(Full lots are Metro's best case scenario for support of system ridership - certainly better than half-empty ones. If Metro charges and actual Metro riders park and the lot fills, then Metro got as many riders as it could from its lot.)

The program had intended to use steep pricing to keep non-riders out of station parking lots. For example, at Bundy Expo Station, transit riders would pay $2 per day and non-transit riders would pay $20 per day. Bonin spoke against any parking spaces going to non-riders, and ultimately the committee directed staff to not allow non-transit riders for the initial three-station pilot phase.

One additional interesting factoid (that SBLA predicted) is that since the Foothill Gold Line opened last week, usage at the recently near-capacity Sierra Madre Villa Gold Line Station parking has plummeted to around half-full, while the two new Azusa stations have been filling up early. Sierra Madre Villa was the terminus of the Metro Gold Line, now that terminus is 11 mile east in Azusa. Chin suggested that Metro may move its planned Sierra Madre pilot to one or more of the new Foothill extension stations, likely an Azusa station or stations.

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