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Metro Hopes Lots of Free Parking Will Get People to Ride Trains

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Metro thinks that people aren't riding all its wonderful train lines is because there's not enough parking at the stations—by their estimates, it's losing up to 1,500 riders a day at the North Hollywood station because "the parking lot fills up by 7:30 am." Fair enough. But the solution is one that Metro often looks to—creating more free parking. Some would argue that free parking by Metro stations is basically encouraging people to drive, which sounds a lot like the opposite of their aim. Still, Metro's chief planning officer tells the LA Times, "We've got to consider it, just because of how big and spread out we are."

From a planning point of view, it's "impractical, perhaps impossible" to build enough free parking to meet LA's demand because of the low turnover at train lots. (Most people park for the whole work day.) "To meet demand, Metro lots would have to sprawl far beyond the station—or, in dense urban areas, rise several stories." And with land prices being what they are, that's not a financially viable (or any kind of desirable) option.

Donald Shoup, the UCLA professor/parking guru, says Metro should use a demand-based pricing system (like ExpressPark, which has been effective Downtown). To those who say that charging for parking by Metro stations would discourage people from using transit, Shoup says, "We pay for our tires, and our insurance, and our repairs, but when it comes to parking, people somehow think that it has to be free."

Streetsblog has recently taken issue with Metro's whole Complete Streets policy, including their diversion of money from "well-used" bike and walking paths near rail stations and toward free parking, citing examples near the Expo and Orange Lines.
· Lack of parking drives many away from mass transit [LAT]