Metro has always been kinda charitable in their attempts to get Angelenos in the habit of taking public transportation. It wasn't until 2013 that the agency finally locked subway turnstiles, ending decades of the honor-system-only approach to fare collection. Now, another freebie looks to be coming to an end. Starting in May, Metro will no longer offer free parking at nine of it's rail stations, according to Los Angeles magazine. It's all part of a pilot program to test the feasibility of rolling out paid parking for all of Metro's 48 (soon to be 57) parking lots. First up for fees are North Hollywood and Universal City on the Red Line, Atlantic and Sierra Madre Villa on the Gold Line, and Expo Line stations Expo/Bundy, Expo/Sepulveda, 17th St/SMC, La Cienega/Jefferson, and Culver City.
There will no doubt be partial drivers angry about this added cost, but the fact is they are in the minority of Metro commuters. Metro riders who drive a car to their subway stations represent only a small fraction of total users—more than half of riders arrive at stations by bus or other means. By comparison, only 13 percent of Metro riders park a car when using the Universal City station. Up the street in North Hollywood, the number of riders parking their cars at the station represents just 9 percent of weekday boardings. And yet, that small percentage is packing these Metro parking lots, often filling them to their capacity by 8 am every weekday. Despite this small percentage of riders using the service, Metro has still been paying for upkeep of their parking facilities, even though it's not taking in any money from them. By adding a nominal fee to the nine lots in the pilot program, Metro expects to generate about $600,000 in net revenue.
Even with the parking fee added, Metro estimates commuters heading to Downtown LA from the Valley will still be saving money. They calculate that the cost of gas and monthly parking Downtown clocks in at a little over $250, but parking at a Metro station for a small fee and taking the subway into Downtown only costs half as much. For just $2 to $3 a day or a monthly rate of $29 to $59, depending on the station, drivers will still have access to Metro parking lots at a pretty attractive price.
But say you want to hang out in the Noho Arts District or Universal City for the evening, and sneaking into Metro's free lots has always been your little parking secret. They will still be available for non-transit riders, but it will cost you big time. TAP Card readers will be installed at Metro's parking lots to separate transit users and non-transit users; the daily rate for the parking lots if you don't hop on the train within 96 hours will be anywhere from $15 to $25. That doesn't leave much money left over for simulated skydiving at CityWalk.
Outreach for the pilot program will begin in April, as Metro officials get the word out to sure-to-be-disgruntled drivers that their spot in the lot is no longer free. Once May hits, the program will go into full effect, and the new era in paid Metro parking begins. But, when the Gold Line opens its extension to Azusa this March, parking will still be free at those stations.
· Here Are the Parking Rates Coming to 9 Metro Stations [LA Magazine]
· Paid Parking Pilot Program [Metro]
· When Metro Locks Subway Gates, Riders Actually Pay to Ride [Curbed LA]
· Metro Hopes Lots of Free Parking Will Get People to Ride Trains [Curbed LA]