Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pay for Parking?

One thing I miss about East Coast living is public transportation. I didn't love it, but it was just a way of life. In fact, I rode public transportation the most when I didn't live in the city. I didn't even live in the burbs. My small town was just 26 miles outside of Philadelphia but was not considered part of the city. I'd take the train to school everyday and for occasional weekend excursions to New York City. I rode the bus into the City to visit friends or whatever. But I never parked a car at the train station or bus stop.
(Ten points to anyone who can identify this Mainline train stop without visiting flickr)
photo by jpmueller99

Space is limited in the crowded East. Public transportation systems are old. Parking areas around train stations are small. Though the spots fill up early, the majority of riders don't park there. At least I don't know any of those people who parked in the lot. I just assumed they either had money to blow or wouldn't be there long. The rest of us either walked, got a ride or rode bikes to the station.

So I'm a bit surprised that the fact that RTD may begin charging for parking at Park-n-Rides is such a big headline. RTD has been hit hard by rising fuel costs and increased ridership. Prices in the past were probably low in an effort to increase ridership.

In a Rocky Mountain News poll a whopping 92% said that they would not pay for parking at a Park-n-Ride. Another reader poll revealed that 45% don't support increased fares. Meanwhile, RTD is experiencing a $21.4 million budget gap due to rising fuel costs and lower-than- projected sales tax collections.

What we say and what we do are often vastly different. But do we really want to fill our city and suburbs with parked cars? Can we afford to let RTD continue its decline into debt?

The most appalling part of all of this is that the revenue from paid parking may not go toward this gap but could be earmarked to create more parking. Though that hasn't been completely decided. If you've got an opinion you can contact the RTD Board of Directors.

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