Metro proposes test parking fees at nine rail stations

As you may have read by now, Metro staff are proposing a test program that would charge a $2 or $3 parking fee at nine rail stations where there a cumulative 4,753 spaces. The staff presentation on the test program is above.

A few important points:

•The final decision on going forward with the test program is up to the Metro Board of Directors. The Board will receive a presentation this month and then are scheduled to vote whether to go forward with it in March.

•Why is Metro proposing a fee? One major goal is to better manage demand so that the lots don’t fill early each weekday and then stay filled with no spaces for anyone else. Another goal is to raise revenue to help pay for maintenance and security at the lots.

•Staff believes that the fee is low enough to keep overall commuting costs low for those who want/need to drive to transit. At the same time, staff believes that any fee will persuade some people to get to stations by other means — transit, walking, biking, drop-off.

•Interesting stat: Metro looked at four stations — Culver City, Atlantic, North Hollywood and Universal — and that the vast majority of riders reached those stations either via transit or walk/bike/drop-off. See page six of the above presentation.

•The other big goal of the program is to discourage non-transit users from parking in Metro lots. This will ultimately be done by charging those motorists a fee much higher than the going rate in surrounding neighborhoods — thereby discouraging them from using Metro lots.

•Attendants at the parking lots will have handheld TAP card readers to verify which patrons used Metro transit versus those who did not.

•The following stations are proposed to be in the test program:

Sierra Madre Villa (Pasadena) on the Gold Line, $2

Atlantic (East L.A.) on the Gold Line, $2

North Hollywood on the Red Line, $3

Universal on the Red Line, $3

Culver City on the Expo Line, $2

La Cienega/Jefferson (Los Angeles) on the Expo Line, $2

Expo/Bundy (West L.A.) on the Expo Line extension (opening this year), $2

Expo/Sepulveda (West L.A.) on the Expo Line extension, $2

17th Street/SMC (Santa Monica) on the Expo Line extension, $2

•Finally, to emphasize: this is “test” program that comprises less than 25 percent of the overall parking spaces available at Metro stations. Metro staff wants to see how the program impacts ridership, available spaces at the station and revenues before making any kind of future parking fee proposals. More details will be available next month when the Board considers the test program.


36 replies

  1. I think this is great news, and I hope the Metro Board adopts this test program as a first step to a system-wide parking policy.
    I understand that some low income riders will be hurt by this program, but they have to realize that parking has a cost, just like transit service has a cost. Metro doesn’t give away transit service for free, so why should they give away parking for free.
    I’m lucky enough to be one of Metro’s choice riders, and I have benefited from free parking at Expo’s La Cienega station since it opened four years ago. The free parking has made my transit access choice an easy one. Now I will have another incentive to switch from drive access to bike access.

  2. I agree it is the thing to do. However, I wonder if the fee will apply when the lots are usually pretty empty like on weekends or after 6:00 p.m. If so, it might hurt ridership some.

    • feels like this is another money grab, like the TAP cards, that are not solved yet but required. Fix things first, then start charging for them

  3. If parking plus metro fees cost more than gas, why am I taking the train?

    I have never, ever had trouble finding parking at La Cienega/Jeff and I really don’t want them to charge a fee to park there. Esp when it’s more than the cost of the ride.

    And there shd be no fee on nites/weekends when there is less conflict from those going to work. Bottom line, I am a fan of fees at discounted rates for lots that already charge, but this will not make those of us who have no choice but to drive find alternatives, and may impact the choice to use the metro.

    • Hi Jon;

      The problem with increasing parking is: A) finding the money to do so, and; B) finding the land to do so. It’s very expensive and benefits a minority of riders. Also, we don’t want our stations to be surrounded entirely by parking — the idea is to have stations that are part of communities.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • Steve, why does Metro seem to be so “ok” with a large majority of riders NOT being commuters? I thought one of the overall goals of having a Metro system is to get those cars off the freeway and into the Metro parking lot so the commuter will take the train instead of clogging up our freeway and surface street system?
        In places like San Francisco, New York and other major cities, a large portion of transit ridership consists of individuals who could easily afford to drive to work but take transit because its easier.
        In Los Angeles, Metro seems to instead focus on just the needy (I think Metro has said the average rider makes less than $16,000 a year?) and seems to ignore the transportation needs of the rest of the population.
        As I’ve said in the past, charge me to park and I’ll drive to work instead — especially since it takes so much more time to take the train than to drive. And you can tell me to take the bus to the train station all you want, but I won’t do it — especially when the bus only runs twice an hour and takes double the time to get to the train station as my car.
        If you want commuters to take the train / bus, it needs to be *faster* than driving and needs to be less expensive than driving.
        By charging for parking, Metro is taking away the less expensive portion of the equation and Metro is NOT faster than driving.
        I think Metro seriously needs to consider providing better transportation options for day to day commuters in addition to servicing the poor and needy.

        • Hi Robert;

          I think the challenge is this: you can only build so much parking at the stations. Parking is costly. There’s little to no chance Metro or any transit agency can build enough parking to impact traffic. And building parking isn’t cheap — especially when it comes to parking garages. There’s another aspect to this: if you want transit to connect to neighborhoods, it’s probably not wise to put so much parking in that the neighborhood is pushed out of the way. Yes, giant lots may work in some suburban locations. But not so much in others.

          Steve Hymon
          Editor, The Source

      • Robert — for commuters you build, ahem, commuter rail: primarily peak-hour service from suburban destinations. To sustain an all-day frequent service like Metro rail you have to rely primarily on non-commuters.

  4. The second bullet mentioned that spaces can get filled up early. BART in the Bay area sets aside some spaces at most of its stations where parking is only allowed after 8 or 9am.

  5. At least wait to do it at Culver City station until the expansion opens up. It has been riddled with delays and those of us who chose those neighborhoods (like Palms) who have been patiently awaiting the opening have had to drive over to the Culver City lot. After the expansion then you can discuss Parking since I am guessing a lot of the parked cars might vanish once the Expo Expansion opens…

  6. So, I pay nearly $100 a month to take the train and on top of that have to pay $2-$3 daily to park my car? I’m on the cusp of Santa Monica and Culver City, so Metro buses don’t come near my home, the transfer option is not available to me. It wouldn’t be financially worth it to me, to pay for parking, as my monthly cost would be closer to $150, while it only costs me $75 to park at work. Why not have a mechanism where tap cards are used to open a gate, if the card isn’t tapped for transportation, then pay a day fee commensurate to the surrounding area. For example, $10 for all day if the card isn’t tapped on the train/bus at the exit. There are times my husband drives me to the station, how are you going to handle pick-ups and drop-offs? What happens if I have someone waiting for me and the train is late/delayed, will he have to pay parking because the train was late? The The biggest mistake Metro made when building these lines is having the honor system. If people paid for their transportation, then Metro would not be losing money. Half of the people using the system don’t tap – seen it with my own eyes, and unfortunately, it’s not limited to the youth. Oftentimes, the sheriffs issue warnings instead of tickets, especially if the rider is not a minority youth.

  7. There is a means to address low income commuters that Metro already operates, which is the ExpressLanes equity program. Allow people who quality for the ExpressLanes equity program 50% off parking or free parking credit on their TAP card. Unless Metro expects to hire parking guards at random hours, parking needs to be free after a certain time to transit riders – say, 1 pm or so. This will also stimulate late night ridership.

    I question why Atlantic Station was selected as a pilot, since this lot is usually half full (the top deck is normally empty). There is plenty of free street parking nearby and I expect many of these people, who are low income commuters, will just park on the street.

  8. A way to decrease ridership so that those who appose rail transit systems can say that they are correct in cutting this needed service. We need ways to increase the use of the system and one way would be better service to key locations like LAX. A direct train from Union Station to LAX? Thinking ahead maybe a rail line to actually stop at the Rams stadium? I know those people plan on charging even more for parking.

  9. I commute via Metrolink. However, I have occasionally taken the Red Line in from North Hollywood. If don’t get there before 8 a.m., there are no parking spots left. What I noticed were all the empty “reserved” spaces. I did some research and there was an extremely long waiting list for those “reserved” spaces, which account for 1/3 of all spaces at North Hollywood. Why don’t you make those available?

  10. I support the parking fee. Then again, I probably won’t end up paying it if it ever comes to my station (Wardlow), because that station has more free street parking spaces than lot spaces (and some of the street parking is closer to the station than the Metro lot south of Wardlow). When I arrive for my now once-weekly commute, the lots are usually full but street parking is plenty. I bet a fee would move some drivers to park on the street, which means the lots would have spaces a bit later in the day for those willing to pay.

    Of course, if Metro starts charging for parking at Wardlow, the city of Long Beach might decide to put meters on the streets…

    And if Long Beach Transit start providing frequent late-night bus service then I might ditch the car altogether, but right now it’s impractical because buses when I return are just too inconvenient.

  11. I thought these lines were built with taxpayer money. You want to add 2 to 3 dollars a day to people’s commute. Ridiculous! People, myself included will simply get back in their cars. So far my experience has been the trains are not all that reliable regarding schedule, now you want to “test” charging parking at 3 of the 7 stations for phase 2 not even open yet. Good luck with that as the backlash of lower ridership is possible. This will lower the incentive for people to get out their cars.

  12. I’m on the fence on this one. If the additional parking fees don’t kill me too much, then I will be all set. If it does then I will have my employer pick up the cost of the my monthly transit pass (which I currently pay out of pocket for), the full cost of parking at my job site or move closer to work and drive. If Metro wants to pass the costs of parking in their lots to me then I’ll pass the costs to someone else. Either way the people who support charging for Metro parking lots will pick up the tab.

  13. Well see what happens when the parking fee is rolled out. If this hurts me then I will have my employer pick up the tab for the transit pass I currently pay for out of pocket or for parking at the work site. That or I can move closer to work and drive.
    If I choose to have my employer pick up the tab for the transit pass then $60 / month to park at a Metro station is much cheaper than paying for monthly transit pass. While free parking at Metro lots is nice, I can always exercise other options that are equally attractive.

  14. It already takes me an extra 30 to 40 minutes EACH WAY to take Metro Rail vs. driving my own car from home to work. Start charging me to park at the train station and I’ll simply stop taking Metro.
    If Metro has a goal of reducing the number of vehicles on the freeway, charging for parking is NOT going to help. Then again, it appears that Metro consistently doesn’t care about actually getting commuters off our freeways and surface streets and onto the rail system.

    • At the full stations, there are plenty of other people who are willing to take your place. At Atlantic, all the fees will do is drive people (no pun intended) to parking on the streets surrounding the stations which have plenty of free parking, and walking the extra five or ten minutes. I often park on the street east of Union Station rather than paying the $8 daily fee, especially for Dodger games or similar events where the parking around Piper Tech and south of the freeway is available. But during the day, the $8 parking at Union Station is the best deal in town if headed to a meeting or event downtown.

  15. Anyone complaining about paying for parking at the North Hollywood & Universal Red Line in the San Fernando Valley forgot that parking is 100% free for now at Orange Line stations.

  16. “Why is Metro proposing a fee? One major goal is to better manage demand so that the lots don’t fill early each weekday and then stay filled with no spaces for anyone else.”

    So that means driving people away from using Metro?

  17. This is not well thought out. $2-$3 parking is more than the actual metro trip pass, more than doubling the commute cost and a lot more than what discounted riders pay. This is also a bad set of test stations because once the Expo line opens, then riders closer to future stations will use those ones instead of the Culver or Jefferson/Cienega stations, making more room at Culver and Jefferson/LaCienega stations. While parking is important for first/last mile connections and parking fees might encourage more people to walk, take the bus or bike, there are not many bus routes or safe bike paths that connect the Westside to the Metro stations. It takes me an hour (often dangerous the way cars drive) bike ride from the Marina to get to Culver Station when I do not drive. For $3.50, I can take a commuter express and get off at a “pick-up” spot to catch the Culver Station (with an additional $1.75), but this is only available only during rush hour and more expensive than just driving to my destination. So, in practice, the parking for me is really a first/last six miles to the Metro. With parking charges and no new bus routes to serve the Marina, I will probably no longer use the Metro. Metro already takes an extra 45min each way when I use it to commute to work. If the cost were to increase because of parking, I would probably just enjoy the convenience of my car and break even on costs per mile. I agree that non-Metro users taking up parking spaces in some stations is a problem, but the solution to that is not just to charge everyone. It would make sense to ensure everyone who parks validates their tap cards at the station. That could easily be done by allowing people to enter their parking space number when they tap to validate instead of paying for round-the-clock parking space monitors for each station or tap meters for each parking spot.

    • There is a lot of demand for riders to commute to Santa Monica and West LA from Mid-City. Many would be willing to pay $2 a day to park at Culver City and La Cienega when the line opens in May. Considering it takes longer to drive than the 20 minute ride to SM and the fact that many employers reimburse for parking in SM, which can run well over $100 a month, it is probably better that you no longer occupy a parking space in favor of a Westside worker.

  18. I though Metro is a public transportation and now it will for rich people only?
    Why would people take metro if it cost more time and money than driving?

    An additional of $2-3 a day might sound nothing but to some people, it makes a huge difference for low income families or students with no income

    I will doubt the effect of new parking policy. Less people will take metro and it means less income.

    As many had mentioned, METRO should instead
    1. increase their income by avoiding people from cheating (ride but never tap).
    2. Metro should also work with local stores that can give incentive when using metro.
    3. promote digital advertising which can also bring tremendously income. e.g. show a food menu/pictures of a restaurant nearby
    4. borrow ideas from others who are successful

    “Rather than relying strictly on farebox revenue and taxation, transit agencies in North America should be freed to develop other revenue sources, just as the Japanese private railways have done to great success. Diversification into related businesses could hold the key to long term financial health for public transit in North America. … A version of the rail integrated community model developed in Tokyo could be a key to greater financial stability for public transit in North America.”

    • I’d love to see Metro establish a program where instead of paying SEPARATELY for parking, there would be a “tap” validator at the parking entrance. The same way you can switch from train to train within an hour with a single TAP, you should be able to get your car into/out of the parking structure on the same TAP. If someone attempts to utilize the parking structure without riding or validating on the actual train, they’d get pinged/charged extra. (Note: I understand Santa Monica paid parking is unavoidable, as otherwise beach patrons will likely just clog free lots without using the train – I’m speaking specifically about Culver, La Cienega/Jefferson, etc.)

      I’m a commuter from the westside who has to drive to the Culver City Station in order to catch the EXPO, and paying to park AND ride the train almost make it more cost-effective to jump on the 10 all the way downtown and park for free at work.

      Thank you for all you do to try an improve public transit in LA, but this isn’t right.

      • As nice as these ideas would be, I don’t really foresee Metro providing any types of benefits to those riders that do things the legal way and pay the current fare. Just riding the Red Line on a daily basis, Metro looks more like a homeless shelter than a means for commuters. Metro should first come up with a plan to provide better fare enforcement and safety prior to developing plans to increase the charges for those that are actually paying in the first place.

  19. Bad idea. If rationing is a reason, why charge 24/7? Not many cars at Sierra Madre evenings and weekends. Just increases justification to drive. This will not increase ridership. I will drive more often. Increases bad PR towards Metro.

  20. Here is the actual item:

    ” At the beginning of the program, payment will only be required during the period that parking attendants are scheduled to be onsite, from 5am to 2pm on weekdays. Staff is also recommending the purchase of pay machines which are able to accept cash, credit cards and mobile payments. Once the pay machines are in operation, payments will be required 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.”

    This is inappropriate as the cost of trying to enforce parking during off hours and weekends is likely to be excessive, and provide little benefit. It will also deter late night ridership and result in overflow parking around the stations, since most of those areas have time restricted parking that ends around 6 pm. Free parking for transit users should be provided after 2 pm daily and all day weekends and holidays, with targeted enforcement at the locations where there is spillover (like Universal City) and no enforcement at places like Sierra Madre Villa and Atlantic where charging for parking on the weekends will just lead to people parking on the street.

  21. With $2~3 fee, there is no impact at all. It will cost more money to setup the system to collect the fees than the collected fees. I park my car in El Monte and work in El Segundo. I can either drive to work or leave my car in the lot from 5am to 5pm. There is no chance I will take my car out in the middle of the day. For most commuters, riding bus from home to station is not an option (most local bus are in 30 minutes plus interval).

    To increase ridership, Metro has to find way easier for people to get to the station. Building more parking space is lot cheaper to running local bus service at 10 minutes interval.