Metro Board approves pilot parking fee program at nine Metro Rail stations

The Metro Board of Directors approved a pilot parking fee program at nine Metro Rail stations on Thursday. The plan is to first implement the program at the three new Expo Line stations when they open May 20 and then to add the other six stations later this year. The daily rate at the new Expo stations will be $2 and the monthly rate $39.

The above presentation explains the program. The idea is to use the fee to help balance supply and demand at these busy stations and open up more spaces later in the day — instead of them filling early each day at high-demand stations. The parking fee chart is below:


The monthly permit is for those who use a TAP card to ride at least 10 days each month. There are no reserved spaces — Metro will set aside an adequate number of monthly spaces in each garage or lot. Monthly permits will be available online; more info to come as we get closer to the launch date.

40 replies

  1. This is ridiculous. The Metro system is – as usual – putting cart before horse. I keep wanting not to feel like these guys are trying to justify their salaries rather than make the system work. First the TAP cards, now this. I am a huge advocate of public transportation and use it whenever I can…. and whenever it’s working. But if it’s cheaper and easier for me to use my car, then I am not going to ride, especially as the rail lines I use seem to always be down. And until it runs 24 hr, I can’t use it when they swap in relay buses.

    Why must they use the Microsoft model of letting the user suffer by finding all the flaws on our dime. Why can’t they solve things first, before assessing fees that make riding the same cost as driving.

    How shortsighted to build flat lots instead of structures, and the need for parking for those who don’t live by a bus-line that accesses the stops – something mentioned at every single Metro meeting I attended for over 10 years. Many viable sollutions were offered to help alleviate fees and parking challenges, none of which were enacted or, it seemed, even considered.

    The Metro Board is driving me away from using the Metro system, nickels and dimes at a time.

    • Unfortunately, this is the price we must pay for years of backwards planning. Citywide transit should NOT supplement segments of vehicle travel nor should it accommodate vehicular travelers.

      Until we build stations as comprehensive destinations (pedestrian scaled, walkable and complete), all we’re doing is creating an under utilized system that still requires cars and lacks appeal as a destination as an incomplete method of transit. I’ve traveled extensively throughout the world and nowhere else have I seen such dismal expanses of car oriented development around transit stations. There’s a damned car dealership a stones throw from Culver city station… In successful systems, trains connect directly to centers of commerce and high density residential (the reason they’re successful) in LA, they’re almost opposite.

      I live 6 miles away from my nearest station, and I used to drive there, (never had a problem with parking) but since I started taking the bus, I realized how convenient it was and stopped driving altogether

  2. Glad Metro is finally making this change, especially for the Red Line in the Valley. Would love to see you guys consider dynamic pricing based on demand as well.

  3. There are definitely going to be complainers, but I think it makes sense to experiment with charging for parking at busy stations, on the days and times when they are busy, for a whole bunch of reasons:

    – Parking isn’t free to Metro. It costs money to build and maintain parking lots and structures. Maintaining these facilities also means Metro can’t make money selling the land to a developer who could put lots of jobs and housing near transit stations. Why shouldn’t we pay to cover the cost of the parking we use, which is an extra cost on top of the transit service? More money into the system means more money for better transit service, which benefits all transit riders.
    – When lots are filling up, prices are a way to manage demand and make sure you don’t show up and find no parking available (which is way worse than having to pay a couple bucks). With prices, you know you will be able to find a parking spot, and it’s still a bargain compared to parking in places like Downtown LA.
    – Lower-income transit riders who can’t afford cars don’t get free transit to get them to rail stations, yet higher-income transit riders who can afford cars get free parking, which directly competes with bus transit. Where’s the equity in that, and why is transit competing with itself?

    Also, this is a pilot program. The point is to try it out and see if it is working. I say experiment away, and yes, this will directly impact me. I suspect Metro will end up making this a weekday-only thing maybe up until a certain hour in the evening since the weekend and nighttime parking demand isn’t as high. I can definitely attest to that at Atlantic.

  4. I agree. It seems that the Metro System is becoming more and more inconvenient. Since the Goldline extension has opened the trains have been running late and they’ve been ridiculously crowded. The only positive for me has been that the parking structure at Sierra Madre Villa is now half empty. So NOW they plan to start charging to park there?

  5. The presentation shows TAP users paying for parking upon entry. What’s to prevent a non-transit rider from paying with TAP, then just not riding transit? You need to check for ridership upon exit.

    • Curbed reported that in order to get the “transit” rate upon entry, their TAP card had to show transit rider activity in the last 96 hours. I assume they picked this timeline to account for someone who rode on a Friday, then had a 3 day weekend, and now it’s Tuesday and they are riding again, but that’s just a hunch.

      Metro also plans to invest in technology that will verify if transit was actually used:

      • Thanks for the info, but this policy is ridiculous. What about a once-weekly commuter (like myself)? Or an occasional transit rider? Should they not get to park at the transit-rider fare? Conversely, non-transit riders can get cheap parking under the 96-hour system by just hopping on a bus twice a week, riding for one stop, and boom — cheap parking at transit stations every day of the week.

        I get it that payment upon entry can save staffing costs, if for example parking becomes free after a certain hour in the day, at which point the attendant can go home. But it introduces a huge distortion, since there’s no way to verify if the parking is connected to a transit ride. Metrorail in DC had payment upon exit long before smart cards: you would get the transit-rider parking rate by grabbing a paper transfer at a station other than the one you parked at, thus proving to the attendant (upon exit) that you rode the system. Today they use Smartrip for the same purpose. BART has a different system to verify ridership, where entry/exit to the parking lots is not monitored, and you pay for your numbered parking space after having paid your transit fare. This may be easier to implement as a pilot — paint numbers on all the parking spaces, then have attendants collect the fare inside the faregate area.

  6. I’m 71, working pt, use the rails for work once a week, maybe twice, to save gas … and more often just for the pleasure of it. The $2 tag is nauseating … and $32 a month? I’ll drive instead to work. If folks want to encourage LA to use cars less, THIS ISN’T THE WAY! At the very least, charge for parking (to stave off parkers who are not on the train) and then if the TAP card is used for the train, reimburse the parking fee.

  7. I really hope Metro charges *hourly* rates as well for non-transit riders, at least in the Expo phase 2 stations. Those are busy downtown locations and I suspect Metro could actually make some money off people paying for parking and going shopping. I know the goal is to overprice non-transit parking so that transit users have more spaces, but if there are spots open by mid-day, I don’t see why we can’t open them up for hourly parking as a revenue generator.

  8. It will be interesting to see how this impacts Red Line ridership. NoHo and Universal are the only free parking in Metro’s subway system. I’m curious how many Red Line riders will park up the Orange Line at Van Nuys (almost 800 spaces) or Sepulveda (1,200+ spaces) like I do. (Though the reason I do it is to avoid searching for a spot at NoHo)

  9. You did it again! For the second time in two months you changed the schedules for the Expo Line but you didn’t bother to tell us! Why is that? Why can’t you make an announcement to tell us that you’re going to change the schedules before you change the schedules?

    • We absolutely need to be making these announcements and will check to see why we weren’t informed of the schedule change. Sorry about this!

      Anna Chen
      Writer, The Source

      • Anna: Thank you for that response. That leads me to my next question/comment, which isn’t as easy: How does Metro decide which rail lines get service cuts or service increases in this time while we wait for the new rail car delivery to catch up with the implementation of new rail service? Specifically, why is the Gold Line extension being served by three-car trains, while the Expo Line is served by two-car trains, when Metro ridership data shows that peak loads on the Expo Line are significantly higher than on the Gold Line? Is this a case of the squeaky wheel getting the grease, i.e. is Metro allocating the additional rail cars to the Gold Line because their passengers are complaining more about crush loads than the Expo Line passengers?
        As you know, Metro opened the Foothill extension earlier this month, and is in the process of testing Expo Phase 2 for a scheduled opening on May 20. At the same time, the rail car delivery, which was originally scheduled to provide 62 new light rail cars by May, 2016, is approximately 9 months behind schedule. (You told me last week that they had delivered 23 cars so far, and were delivering another car approximately once per week.) I assume that the delivery schedule was planned to allow Metro to serve the longer corridors and to increase service to accommodate higher passenger loads. Because of the delays delivering rail cars you don’t seem to have enough cars to serve the new lines at the planned service levels. As a result, the Gold and Expo Lines are both experiencing much higher ridership loads than before.
        By my estimates, from review of Year 2015 Metro Rail ridership statistics, in 2015 the Gold Line served peak loads of approximately 135 passengers per train, and the Expo Line now served peak loads of approximately 210 passengers per train. Assuming service operations in effect in 2015 (two-car trains for Gold Line and three-car trains for Expo Line), and 70 seats per train car, these equate to average peak load factors of approximately 1.0 for both lines.
        When the Gold Line Foothill Extension opened earlier this month the line immediately experienced changes in ridership and travel behavior. Anecdotal evidence tells us about the parking problems at the Azusa stations and crush loads (“packed like sardines”) on Gold Line trains. Anecdotal evidence also tells us about long wait times (e.g. “more than 20 minutes”) at the new stations and poor signage and communications identifying the destinations of eastbound trains headed to the new Foothill stations. However, this is only anecdotal evidence, and subject to random reporting from a limited number of observation. Metro should be collecting empirical data to quantify the effects of the service changes. I assume that Metro has access to automated passenger count data that can be used to quantify the changes in passenger loads on the Gold Line. According to Metro press releases, Metro has responded to the original impacts by adding train cars to some (4?) of the peak trains to accommodate the higher loads.
        At the same time that the Gold Line Foothill Extension requires additional vehicles for that line, the pre-revenue tests for the Expo Line require 3-4 additional trains to test the Phase 2 portion of the alignment. As I have observed, and Metro has confirmed, Metro has now chosen to operate the Expo Line with two-car trains. This revised operating plan has resulted in average peak load factors of approximately 1.5 on Expo Line trains. These are average loads, and loads on individual trains now reach up to double the seating capacity (based on my personal observations).
        This gets me back to my original question. Given that Metro know that passengers on both the Gold Line and the Expo Line are experiencing high passenger loads, why has Metro chosen to allocate what few extra rail cars they have to the Gold Line, instead of to the Expo Line? Metro should allocate what few extra rail cars are available to the line that is experiencing the highest loads. Obviously I’m biased to prefer that service be added to the Expo Line, but if Metro has evidence that average peak passenger loads on the Gold Line Foothill Extension are greater than on the Expo Line I have no problem with their decision. However if empirical data shows that the average peak passenger loads on the Expo Line are higher, Metro should reconsider their earlier decision and allocate what few extra rail cars are available to the Expo Line.

  10. Near as I can tell, the lot I use (Wardlow Blue Line main lot) is already by paid permit at prime inbound commuter hours. Fortunately, the only time I am even there during prime inbound commuter hours is on the rare occasion when I’m off work on a weekday that isn’t a holiday, and I’m visiting someplace that’s reasonably reachable by Metro. The last time that happened was the year my mother died, when I used all my paid vacation leave for “staycations.” (And yes, I DO regard places like the Paramount Studio Tour, and the aviation museums at LAX [FlightPath] and Downey [Columbia Memorial] to be walkable from MetroRail.) By the time I’m there to catch Metro to Disney Hall or the Bowl on a weeknight, parking had reverted to free hours ago.

    • Wardlow is paid permit? I park
      There and never got that memo. Have never been ticketed though I have a fast track in car

      • Wardlow has both reserved paid monthly permits and free first-come-first-serve spaces. Several other stations like NoHo currently operate under this model as well where the monthly permit spots become free after a certain time in the morning.

  11. Although I like free, this plan makes sense. Still, I have a couple of problems that I hope will be resolved:

    On more occasions than I care to remember, I’ve missed the last train of the night to Pasadena/Sierra Madre Villa. Since there are also no buses running then, I end up taking a cab or Uber to SMV Station — meaning I won’t have a freshly tapped TAP card on me. Will I get the non-transit fee, even though my trip started on Metro? (And will I even be able to get my car out of the lot in the wee hours after the trains stop running?)

    The theatre company next door to the Sierra Madre Villa station, A Noise Within, has an arrangement to use the parking structure during performance times (nights and weekends, when there are few transit riders and plenty of empty spaces). Will that continue once the gates come down — or will theatregoers be expected to fork out $17?

    • These are all legit questions and we’ll work on getting answers as staff finalizes the plan for launch. As the first three stations will be along Expo Line, there’s still a bit of time until this is implemented at the other 6 stations.

      Anna Chen
      Writer, The Source

  12. If the fee’s purpose is to manage parking demand at high use lots, will a $2 fee change demand? Perhaps, if the facility is crowded by people who are not riding Metro. But if the lots are used by people riding on the train, and the $2 fee actually reduces parking demand, you are reducing ridership on the system overall – which is contrary to your goal of increasing ridership.

    My guess is that Metro’s current ridership is comprised of people who don’t have another choice or the mass transit true believers who want public transportation to work. The current system is usually not an efficient way to travel around LA, and not very reliable. So, if you are trying to encourage an expanded population to choose the metro and the service you offer is not inviting, why would you implement another disincentive to taking the train? Even though it is a small fee, my guess is that it will simply be one more reason that someone makes a decision to drive, or take Uber or Lyft.

    You should check your data on usage. The parking lot at Sierra Madre Villa may be the exception on your list, but while it was once crowded, since the Gold Line extension opened, it is now half-empty. Based on your rationale, you should not charge a fee at this lot.

    If your purpose is actually to raise funds to operate the system, you should rethink the rates. You could earn more. If you think a $2 fee will not reduce ridership on the system, will a $5 fee work the same? You should look at the pricing structure that many parking lots downtown employ: an early bird special (which might be your normal rider), higher during the day when few spots remain, lower in the evening when demand is reduced. You could learn from the people who operate parking lots as their business.

    In the end, if the fee is effective in reducing parking at crowded lots, you will reduce Metro’s overall revenue as ridership declines further. My guess is that the crowded lots will still be crowded and this fee is simply another way to charge more to those who don’t have another transportation choice. Should your ultimate goal be to improve the Metro service and grow ridership, you may want to rethink this decision.

  13. Please improve bicycle parking at your stations. At Allen Station one of the bike areas is tiny and the other one is 150 feet from the entrance, practically around the corner and not once have I seen a bike parked there because it’s clearly the perfect place to steal a bike. I park now at SMV and would gladly rude to Allen (it’s closer) if I bike parking were more secure.

  14. Maybe the Metro could list somewhere the parking fees for all of the Gold Line Stations. Case in point: Lake Station. There are signs for Metro parking at the Lake Avenue Church. However, in their parking lot (which is huge), the only signs for Metro is one strip for monthly permit holders. Does mean only monthly permit holders get to park there, or can you just park and go? On the subject of these monthly permits: What do they cost? Where does one purchase these magical permits? BTW, on one webpage that the Metro publishes, they say there are 50 spots. On another Metro page, it’s a hundred.

    Since the Lake Station is isn’t even listed on the Gold Line schedule (what is up with that?), I guess it stands to reason that the parking should be shrouded in mystery.

    Allen Station: again, Metro lists paid parking, but where?

    Please Source, get to the bottom of this.

  15. A Metro rider that rides to work 5 days a week, pays the $1.75 fee each way, and now has to pay a $30.00 a month parking permit fee is not saving much by riding the Metro. I wouldn’t be surprised if they go back to solo driving because $100.00 a month (or 4 tanks of gas) is not any different that a $70.00 fee each month to ride and a $30.00 parking fee. If they want people to ride, they have to make it more attractive than
    driving or carpooling.

  16. Boo Hoo, I have to pay an extra $2 a day to park my car at the station to catch a train in addition to the $43 monthly pass to ride the train??

    Seems to me like people are looking for any excuse to complain. Compared to the $40-$50 I spend on Gas Alone each week, I’d say as a college student, this is well worth it. I will be glad to drive to Culver City or Sepulveda Station on the expo line, pay the $2 to park my car, then either catch the Rapid 7 or Expo Line to go to class then be dealing with the traffic west of the 405 and $80 college parking permits that won’t guarantee me a parking spot after 8am.

    And yes, I am aware that regular pass are in the $100 range, but that’s still cheaper than gas alone in a month compared to this.

  17. I’ve been paying for parking at the Artesia station for years without issue. But the new rules say I must make at least ten trips a month or I will lose my monthly permit. I was planning on taking vacation in April which would put me under the ten trip minimum. They said I would have to send them copies of my airline and/or hotel reservations. I’m not leaving town so I have neither. Sounds like I will lose my current permit a be back on the waiting list.

    • Correct me if I’m wrong but going based on what was posted, it seems like this won’t start until may, possibly along with the opening of Expo Line phase 2.

      • That is correct, the first three stations will be along Expo Phase 2 when the line opens May 20, with the others to start later this year.

        Anna Chen
        Writer, The Source

          • Yes, the policy will go into effect at all stations with existing permit parking in May. The pilot parking fee program will only be at the three Expo Line stations.

            Anna Chen
            Writer, The Source

    • I’m not a big fan of that. You should be able to pause your pass privileges for a month or two without losing it. People do travel out of town, they may have jobs that require them to be out of the area, or they may be university or secondary school faculty who have the summer off.

      • Hi,

        There is a long wait list of customers who have applied for permit parking, and the policy is meant to make sure those who purchase permits are actually using them. Staff is aware there are exceptions and will work with customers to accommodate reasonable requests.

        Hope this helps!

        Anna Chen
        Writer, The Source

    • Hi Jesse,

      I’ve been informed that you should not lose your permit if you submit a statement explaining your situation. Staff is aware there are reasonable exceptions and will work with customers on requests. Please email for further assistance.

      Hope this helps!

      Anna Chen
      Writer, The Source

  18. Will these fees apply all the time? or just during regular Mon-Fri. It seems they could be lenient in getting rid of the fees after 7-8 pm on weekdays and all day on weekends when demand is clearly less. Obviously they could reinstate fees on weekend when there are USC games at the Coliseum and parking fills to capacity.

  19. Let me take this moment to apologize to people that live around the North Hollywood station, because I will now be parking in your neighborhoods to avoid this.

    • Despite North Hollywood & Universal City/Studio City’s 1779 parking lots on the Red Line becoming paid lots, the San Fernando Valley will still have access to 4212 free parking lots along the Orange Line.