August 6, 2013
Parking fees raise more questions than money
Get ready to pay for reserved parking at the Issaquah Transit Center.
Sound Transit has approved a plan that could mean that up to 40 percent of parking spots will be fee based. Officials say this pilot program will test whether people 1) will pay, 2) if pre-paid reserved parking will shift drivers to other less-full lots, and 3) if drivers can be encouraged to carpool.
Sound Transit will set aside 10 percent of the Issaquah spots for single-occupant vehicles and another 10 percent for carpools, though either or both of those numbers could expand to 20 percent. Single drivers will pay $33 per quarter and carpools $5. The spots would be reserved during peak hours after which they revert to general parking.
Sound Transit officials will analyze what parts of the test worked and what didn’t — but how they will know that is unclear. Let’s assume all the reserved spots sell, and we think they will. Does that mean that more people are carpooling or just that they are willing to pay a premium to ensure a parking place? How will anyone know if those buying carpool spots are new carpools or just existing carpools taking advantage of the $5 deal? How will Sound Transit know if the people who say they are carpooling are actually carpooling?
If a reserved parker is absent one day, does their parking spot just sit empty in an already crowded lot until the peak time is over? Can they sublease it, or give their pass to a friend?
Not everyone has the ability to pay — $132 per year is a big chunk of change for some, and they may be the same ones who have irregular work hours that make finding a steady carpool very challenging. Or is the fee just meant to glean extra bucks from the privileged few?
We don’t understand how Sound Transit can consider asking drivers to pay for parking already funded through tax dollars, especially for a program that creates an elite status.
It’s hard to see what Sound Transit will get in the way of meaningful statistics. We’re quite sure they’ll learn that there is money to be made in parking lots. Watch for more fees ahead.