Transportation headlines, Tuesday, March 32

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Some awesomeness from the Toronto Transit Commission from last April 1.

Why raise Metro fares when giving away free parking? (LA Streetsblog) 

Joe Linton argues that according to his back-of-the-napkin calculations Metro is squandering $3.5 million in a year in potential revenues if it charged $3 for parking at its lots. As he notes, most parking at Metro lots is currently free. Of course, $3.5 million doesn’t cover the projected budget shortfalls that Metro is projecting and using to justify the fare increases (the shortfalls begin at $36 million in FY 2016 and then rise).

Still, revenue is revenue. There are certainly Metro lots where parking is tight and I think one key public policy question is whether free parking is an incentive to get people out of their cars and onto transit. That said, another important piece of context: most lots were built and opened at a time when gas was far cheaper than now. Thoughts, readers?

Cobalts were seen as lemons from the start (New York Times) 

The evidence grows that General Motors knew there were serious — and potentially deadly — problems with the Cobalt as far back as 2005 when consumers were demanding their money back. The company has already linked an ignition issue with 13 deaths. The chief of General Motors will tell Congress today that she doesn’t know why the carmaker didn’t publicly announce the safety defect with the cars until recently. The answer is pretty obvious: there must have been an internal culture at G.M. in which telling the truth and delivering bad news to customers was seen as less important than covering one’s own backside. There’s nothing on the GM home page, btw, except for some boasting of the craftmanship of the Escalade SUV. The two-wheel drive version of that SUV gets 17 mpg in case you’re interested.

Panel’s warning on climate risk: worst is yet to come (New York Times) 

The latest report from the U.N. is perhaps its bleakest yet. Excerpt:

The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations group that periodically summarizes climate science, concluded that ice caps are melting, sea ice in the Arctic is collapsing, water supplies are coming under stress, heat waves and heavy rains are intensifying, coral reefs are dying, and fish and many other creatures are migrating toward the poles or in some cases going extinct.

The oceans are rising at a pace that threatens coastal communities and are becoming more acidic as they absorb some of the carbon dioxide given off by cars and power plants, which is killing some creatures or stunting their growth, the report found.

Organic matter frozen in Arctic soils since before civilization began is now melting, allowing it to decay into greenhouse gases that will cause further warming, the scientists said. And the worst is yet to come, the scientists said in the second of three reports that are expected to carry considerable weight next year as nations try to agree on a new global climate treaty.

The report focuses in particular on resource shortages — especially food and water — that may accompany climate change. Such shortages, says the UN, will likely exacerbate political instability in places where millions could go hungry or thirsty.

Although transit is certainly not a panacea for climate change, studies have found that transit is a more efficient way of moving people around when it comes to using electricity and fossil fuels — especially when compared to driving alone.

29 replies

  1. There should not be ANY FREE parking at all lazy slobs! What Metro should do is rent the space to developers and they can build something like they have at Wilshire & Vermont, it can still include X floors of parking above ground, shops and restaurants at ground level and business/residential/homeowner oppurtunites.

    The Universal Lot almost happened with NBCU and NOHO can incorporate a new Multi Modal Transportation Hub, parking, more shops, restaurants & bars and residential/business.

    I don’t know if this is try but something like this! NO MORE FREE PARKING!


  2. +1 for ending free parking and utilizing parking structures for more revenue making opportunities like retail. Metro rail stations should be promoting a more walkable environment, not a “drive to a rail station and take transit from there.” Good point on differential pricing for motorcycles. If LA should be promoting better use of land space, they need to set an example out of themselves. Free parking or charging a full car space for motorcycles only goes against what it should be doing.

    Plan things out ahead the first time and get it right the first time. It’s so much cheaper on the long run that way than keep coming back to making fixes all the time.


  3. @BMGM you are right about «You may discover that Metro parking lots are used as free car storage spots in dense neighborhoods where parking is scarce. Charging could open up a lot of parking spots.»

    The best instance other than free Universal Studios parking is the LAX lot! I don’t know how long some of those cars have been there covered in dust. Either people abandon them there or park there instead of paying 12.50++/night at Wally Park.

    They buy a one-way ticket or the driver let’s them on for free and get to the airport. People can also just show an empty TAP pass and get on the airport shuttle for free.

    $$$$ Lost.


  4. “People can also just show an empty TAP pass and get on the airport shuttle for free.”

    Car drivers already do this to get to Destination Discounts events too. They don’t have validators to checks if there’s a valid fare or pass in the card or that it’s even expired, so all they end up doing is buying an empty TAP card for $1, drive there, and show it as a discount card.

    Defeats the entire purpose of promoting going to these events using public transit.


  5. I can only speak for myself. I work in DTLA in areas readily accessible by the Red Line, the Silver Line, and by car. In the past few years I’ve always taken the Silver Line, but have switched to driving since the ExpressLanes opened. If I were to take transit, it would cost me two hours round-trip plus $107 in fares, and I would have to drive to El Monte Station (I could take a local bus but the extra time it takes is unacceptable). If I drive, I spend $302 on gas, parking, and tolls, but I get there in less than half the time. I won’t factor in insurance and car maintenance since the expense is there regardless whether I drive to work or not.

    It’s unfortunate I no longer ride transit regularly, but it seems that one interest of Metro should be to get people like me out of my car. I’m a supporter of charging for parking since I agree with the general comments that it is too cheap and people who drive ought to pay for it. In return, we should see more investment in parking. The Sierra Madre lot is now at capacity on weekdays and it would make sense to add another structure (or re-evaluate the need for more parking as the Gold Line extension opens).

    I also think that commuter parking and transit-oriented development are not mutually exclusive; it would be easy to add parking below high density developments and get the commuters to pay for it.


  6. Any parking lot which is currently filling up should charge for parking. Successful park-and-rides around the US charge for parking (consider Alewife in Boston, which charges $7/day). Parking garages are expensive to maintain — it makes no sense to give away the parking for free, particularly when you’re subsidizing the parking with the fares of the 90% of Metro users who *aren’t* driving cars to the station.

    Charge for the parking. Even $2/day would make a difference. Charge a price high enough that the lot is typically only 95% full at midday, and you’ll know you’ve got the right price.