Subway poll, part four: the parking issue

The first three of our subway polls dealt with issues concerning specific stations; yes or no to a Crenshaw station, the location of the Century City station and where to put a station in Westwood. The fourth poll tackles a broader issue: parking, or rather the lack of it, at stations along the Westside Subway Extension.

A few things to consider before voting:

•The draft environmental impact study/report that is almost finished is studying all five potential subway alignments as if no parking dedicated for subway riders will be built at the stations.

•Even without parking, the subway alignment along Wilshire that extends to the V.A. Hospital is expected to generate 52,000-plus new boardings just at the new stations on the line. That doesn’t count riders who board the train at an existing Red or Purple Line stations.

•The current subway only has dedicated free parking at two stations — Universal City and North Hollywood — for a total of about 2,005 spaces. There are also private lots near many of the other stations.

Click above to see larger map.

•As this map shows, more than half of Metro’s rail or busway stations do have parking. Most — but not all — are free. In some cases, a few parking spaces have been reserved for Metro customers in developments next to the stations.

•The Green Line has about 6,850 spaces, the Orange Line about 3,750 spaces, the Blue Line about 2,770 spaces and the Gold Line and Red/Purple Line both about 2,000 spaces apiece.

•In June, The Red/Purple Line had the heaviest average weekday ridership (162,648 boardings) followed by the Blue Line (82,840), Green Line (43,904), Gold Line (37,270) and Orange Line (21,879). The correlation between parking and ridership appears to be weak.

•Subway planners have shown that the Westside is a major employment destination with significant numbers of people commuting into the area daily from throughout the region (see the map after the jump). In theory, new subway riders who don’t already use transit would be leaving their cars elsewhere.

•Due to parking laws current and future, there probably will be very little street parking near the Westside Extension.

•However, there are private lots and garages near all the stations. But they can be pricey. For example, parking for eight hours at the Century City mall costs $21.

•The only places along the Westside Extension where Metro owns property along the proposed subway alignment is at La Brea and at Crenshaw. It remains uncertain if Crenshaw will have a station and at this point Metro hasn’t decided how best to use its land at La Brea. In the past, the agency has pursued transit-oriented developments at its properties along the current subway route.

click above to see a larger image

•It remains highly uncertain how many communities near the line want new parking near stations. Why? There’s already a lot of traffic in many Westside neighborhoods and adding parking — even though it’s for patrons of mass transit — could be seen as a way of making traffic worse.

•Acquiring property elsewhere for lots or garages is possible but likely expensive given Westside real estate prices. It could mean spending less on other aspects of the project. And, unless it resulted in a significant increase in riders and because it would cost more, adding parking could hurt the critical cost-effectiveness ranking that the project needs to compete for federal funds.

•There remains the possibility that some existing private parking in the area could be freed up if people begin taking the train to their Westside jobs instead of driving. Perhaps some parking operators would see the chance to earn some dollars and lease monthly spaces to regular subway riders.

For more information on the project, visit the Westside Subway Extension page on the Metro website. The public can also follow ongoing issues with the subway on the Westside Subway Extension’s Facebook page and its Twitter feed.

Want to comment on this poll? Send us an email at sourcemetro@gmail.com or post at the project’s Facebook page or at Twitter with @metrolosangeles in your Tweet.