In order to better manage demand for parking at two very busy Red Line subway stations and create more parking spaces for transit riders, Metro will begin charging $3 a day to park at the North Hollywood and Universal City/Studio City stations on Monday, April 24.
Both lots have been free since the two stations opened in 2000. Over the years, it has become more challenging — if not impossible — for transit riders to find parking at either station unless they arrive very early on weekday mornings. One problem is that a number of non-Metro riders use the lots to park for free, meaning those who want to park-and-ride are left without a space.
Automated parking systems will be used at each station. There will be Metro ambassadors on hand in the first few weeks to help everyone get used to paying.
Parking patrons will be able to pay at machines around both lots (there will be 11 at NoHo and five at Universal) or via a smartphone app that is now available in the iTunes store and the Google Play store (there is a 15 cent fee to use the app so parking is $3.15 a day). Here’s how to park at the stations:
1 — Find a parking space.
2 — Pay with the app or find the nearest pay machine. You will need both your license plate number (tip: take a pic with your smartphone if you haven’t memorized your plate) and a valid TAP card. The app requires a credit card. The machines accept cash or credit cards. Note: new transit riders are given a one-day grace period to get a TAP card, which are available at TAP vending machines at both stations.
Why do you need your license plate number? Cameras take a picture and recognize the license plate on each vehicle as it enters the lot and the payment system uses the license plates to verify that payment was received. The cameras also make the system more convenient as there’s no need to return to your car to put a receipt on the dashboard.
A few other points:
•The $3 fee covers 24 hours of parking. You can park at either station for up to three days at $3 per day.
•Failure to pay will result in a $53 citation.
•Existing monthly permit holders will have their permits automatically converted to the new system.
•Those who want to sign up for the waiting list for a monthly permit can do so at LAMetroParking.net. The same site also offers carpool parking permits that allow patrons to split the cost of a monthly permit between two or three people.
Finally, a few thoughts as I know that new fees are sometimes not the most popular thing in the world.
The idea behind the program is not to make money, although it may generate a small profit. Rather, the fees are being used to manage demand and create more parking for those who actually use transit. Metro parking officials emphasize that they’ve found that a small daily fee along with the TAP card requirement opens up parking spaces — and helps prevent the need to build even more parking, which is a very expensive proposition.
Here’s an interesting example from the Expo Line. With a daily fee of $3 in place at all Metro-owned lots along Expo, there remains spaces open in each of those lots — even with the Culver City lot having closed to accommodate a new development being built there. To put it another way, in exchange for a $3 daily fee, those who want to drive to the Expo Line and park can be fairly certain they’ll get a space at any time of the day.
We know there are some people who can only ride transit if they can drive to the station. This move will hopefully benefit many of those riders, as there should finally be spaces open beyond 8 a.m. It’s also worth noting that parking lots along the Orange Line — which offers a transfer to the Red Line at NoHo Station — will remain free as those lots are under-utilized with about 27 percent of spaces occupied on the average day.