On Feb. 1, Metro will start a one-year program to test carpool parking at our seven busiest park-and-rides. We’ve also got plans to step up parking enforcement to discourage non-riders from taking up stalls intended for transit customers.
To help people understand the coming changes, here are answers to some of the questions we’re hearing about this program.
Why is Metro offering carpool permits?
As more people use transit, our customers tell us it’s getting harder to find spaces at many of our park-and-rides.
Of the 54 permanent park-and-rides Metro operates, half are at 80 percent capacity or higher, and some fill up completely before the morning commute ends. In addition to being inconvenient, the “first-come-first-served” system now in place is unfair for people with later work, school, or appointment schedules.
In response to increased demand, Metro is currently exploring a range of options to both manage and expand parking supply. One way to do this is to encourage people to carpool to the park-and-ride. In February 2017 we’re launching a pilot program at seven of our busiest park-and-rides that will offer free carpool parking permits to regular transit riders.
Which park-and-rides are participating in the program?
Permits are good at the following Metro park-and-rides: Redmond, Issaquah Highlands, South Kirkland, South Renton, Northgate, and Eastgate.
Are Metro carpool parking permits free?
Yes. This pilot carpool parking program is strictly voluntary, and the permits for carpool users are free. Our partner agency Sound Transit also offers carpool permits and reserved parking for $5 per month.
What’s the benefit for permit holders?
In return for signing up, carpool permit holders will have reserved parking until 8:30 a.m., after which time the stalls will be available for all transit riders.
How long will the pilot program be in effect?
The pilot program will last for one year. At that point, permit holders and riders will be able to share their feedback about what worked well and what could be improved.
Why am I just hearing about this now?
Our decision to move ahead with the carpool parking pilot program comes after a public outreach campaign in summer 2016. During this campaign, we received more than 11,000 individual comments and widespread media coverage.
Even though that campaign has ended, you are always welcome to contact Metro to ask questions and offer input about the parking program.
Isn’t Sound Transit also offering carpool parking permits? How is Metro’s program different?
Sound Transit kicked off a carpool parking program last fall at nine area park-and-rides after completing their own public outreach campaign and pilot program. Sound Transit’s permits cost $5 per month. Metro’s program was designed to be integrated with Sound Transit’s program, but during this pilot program our carpool parking permits will be free of charge.
How do I get a permit?
Groups of two or more commuters who regularly carpool to park-and-rides and catch the bus or meet a vanpool or another carpool are eligible. Applicants must provide basic contact information, ORCA card numbers, vanpool ID, or RideshareOnline.com email for each member of the carpool. Permits are free.
Regular transit use is not initially required, but at least two carpool permit holders must average three days of transit ridership per week (12 days per month) in order to stay qualified. Permits can be obtained through Republic Parking Northwest, and must be renewed monthly.
Permits are good at the following park-and-rides: Redmond, Issaquah Highlands, South Kirkland, South Renton, Northgate, and Eastgate.
If you have questions about permit eligibility, applications, or payments, call Republic Parking Northwest at 206-783-4144, extension 0.
How many stalls at each park-and-ride will be set aside for carpool parking?
During the pilot program, the number of stalls Metro will reserve for carpool parking will depend on the demand for permits. If demand grows, we can designate more stalls for reserved carpool parking.
If people can’t find parking, shouldn’t they just get to the park-and-ride earlier?
Flexible work schedules aren’t an option for everyone, and many of our customers work in occupations with schedules that don’t conform to a typical 8-to-5 business day. And many who don’t work outside the home still depend on transit to get to classes, job interviews, or appointments. We want to make sure all riders have access to a consistent service level, including parking availability.
What if people take the permits and don’t carpool?
At least two carpool permit holders must average three days of transit ridership per week (12 days per month) to stay qualified. Permits must be renewed monthly. Metro staff members will review information to make sure permit holders meet the eligibility requirements, and revoke permits for those who no longer qualify.
Will Metro start charging for carpool permits? Or require paid parking for all riders?
We have no plans at this time for any type of paid parking system. Any changes in these plans would involve discussion with a number of local governments and other stakeholders, and we would also give transit customers an opportunity to be part of that decision process.
Will you offer permits and reserved parking for single occupancy vehicles?
Metro has no plans to offer permits or reserved parking for single occupancy vehicles.
What about enforcement?
Drivers who park in reserved spaces without a permit will be subject to three warnings. After the third warning, violations will result in the vehicle being towed. In February, Metro will step up enforcement at park-and-rides, with a focus on trouble spots at the Redmond, Northgate, and Eastgate park-and-rides.
Does Metro have plans to ticket and tow the cars of non-transit-riders who unfairly take advantage of free parking?
We know some of our park-and-ride spaces are being filled by people who aren’t there to catch a bus, vanpool, or carpool. Instead, they’re going to nearby businesses, apartments, or construction sites.
In February, Metro will step up enforcement for violations of park-and-ride rules, with a focus on trouble spots at the Redmond, Northgate, and Eastgate park-and-rides.
What else is Metro doing to make it easier to find parking at its park-and-rides?
Metro’s long range plan, Metro Connects, calls for us to expand parking for transit riders by 60 percent. It also calls for us to invest equally in an integrated network of transportation alternatives, including non-motorized connections, bike parking, car sharing, private shuttles, and on-demand car services like taxis, Uber, and Lyft. And it calls for us to support demand management of our existing parking resources.
We’ also expanding our leased-lot program to add new park-and-rides by partnering with churches and other organizations that could offer more parking.