Edmonton park and ride too cheap, advisory board says

Edmonton’s transit advisory board may have found a cure for overcrowded park and rides, but it comes with an expensive side effect.

In the long term, Coun. Michael Walters would like to ease rider's dependence on park and rides

Commuters complain the Century Park park-and-ride lot is often packed by 7 a.m. (CBC)

Edmonton's transit advisory board may have found a cure for overcrowded park and rides, but it comes with an expensive side effect.

The city's eight park-and-rides lots often fill up as early 7 a.m. on weekdays, leaving many riders without a place to leave their cars.

In a report released Thursday, the advisory board said the city should consider charging for more park and ride spots, and raising the rates.

"Converting more stalls to paid reserve parking will curb excess demand," the board wrote in its report to council.

Currently 13 per cent of parking near LRT stations are reserved spots, paid for by the user. The waiting list for reserved spots at Century Park has 3,540 names on it.

The advisory board recommends charging different rates depending on the popularity of the lot, in hopes to shifting drivers toward lower-demand areas.

While Edmonton charges $42 per month to reserve a park-and-ride spot, the board said other Canadian cities charge as much as $271 per month.

Between snow clearing, sweeping, electricity and parking enforcement, running a pavement park and ride can be very costly, according to the advisory board.

"If customers pay a greater portion of the costs of supplying parking services, then ETS can offer a transit system that is both socially and financially responsible,"

The advisory board also contemplated limiting the length of time a car can park to increase turnover, and using church and shopping mall parking spaces for transit riders and sharing the profits.

Coun. Michael Walters said he's not sure charging for spots makes the most sense. He said there may be nothing council can do in the short term to ease the parking crunch.

In the long term, he would like to see ease rider's dependence on park and rides. 

"I don't think the system is working if you're getting people to still choose their car just to drive to a train," he said.

He said that land would be better used for high-density development, rather than large surface-parking lots.

Down the road he would like riders to take the bus from their neighbourhoods to transit centres. Park and rides would still exist, but would mainly serve people from out of town, he said. 

City council's transportation committee will debate the advisory board's suggestions on Wednesday.

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