As of noon, the results are lopsided: 88% of those who voted said they would ride the Westside Extension even if parking is very limited.
If you haven’t yet voted, please do so. And if you need more info, read yesterday’s post on the issue.
Lauren Cole, of Brentwood, emailed us this very thoughtful dispatch on why she believes parking is needed:
I simply do not understand the constant debate about whether or not we need to have parking at stations on the Westside Metro Extension. Of course we do. Why would anyone spend billions of dollars to build a subway, only to make it inaccessible to many if not most of the people who would want to take it?
The people I’ve heard make the argument that Metro stations should not have parking usually fall into two categories:
1) Bus advocates
2) People who are worried about people driving into their neighborhoods to get to the station
In answer to the first group: Not everyone has mass transit within walking distance from their home. Particularly as you get west of the 405 freeway, there simply are not enough north-south streets with buses that would allow a lot of people to take a bus to get to the subway. It is not simply a case of adding more buses. If you look at the geography, a lot of people live in hillside areas or residential areas that simply do not have big streets that allow for buses in the first place. This does not mean that these people don’t want to take the subway. It just means that they will have to get into their cars to get to a station.
In answer to the second group: The whole point of building a subway is to cut down on traffic around the city. However, people have to be able to get to the subway entrance nearest to their house in order to encourage subway usage and cut down on driving. Would you rather have those people drive in circles around your neighborhood looking for spots, and then taking up all available parking on your streets? I live within walking distance of a potential subway stop, and I sure don’t. I want people to be able to easily drive to the station and park. I don’t want them parking in my neighborhood, and as a taxpayer I certainly don’t want to spend millions of dollars to build a subway system that is operating at a level substantially below its potential because no one wanted to cough up a little bit of money for parking lots.
I’m also really tired of hearing “Real estate on the Westside is expensive” from Metro when we are spending hundreds of millions of dollars per mile to build the subway in the first place. Let’s not nickel and dime the project—build adequate parking so that people can use it. I’ve heard lots of stories about people driving to North Hollywood, not being able to find parking because the lots fill up early in the day, and then having to drive the rest of the way downtown.
I also disagree with the notion that parking has to be “free” or “cheap” to encourage people to take the subway. It only has to be cheaper than the parking at your destination + the cost of gas to get there. If you expect most commuters going from Brentwood to take the subway to downtown LA during weekday days, parking at the station shouldn’t be more than parking rates downtown but that is a long way from a requirement for “free” parking. Of course convenience and trying to save the environment are other reasons why people will take the subway rather than drive, even if parking is not free or cheap.
In summary: Of course we need parking at the stations!