Many commuters who drive to Metro’s train and bus stops knew this day was coming, but it still hurts: the transit agency announced recently that it’s strongly considering expanding its paid parking program to various stations along the system.
Already charging for parking at four Expo Line stations on the Westside, Metro will decide at their December 1 board meeting to institute fees at the Irwindale, APU/Citrus (Azusa), and Atlantic (East L.A.) Gold Line stations, as well as the swamped parking lots at the Universal City and NoHo subway stops. After those go into effect, Metro is looking at Green Line stations, including the Aviation and Norwalk stops, as well as the El Monte station, which services the Silver Line express bus.
The cost is relatively nominal; between $2-$3 bucks a day. Monthly fees are even cheaper, topping out at $59 in North Hollywood, La Cienega/Jefferson, and the SMC/17th Street station in Santa Monica (the cheapest is $29 at the Atlantic stop). The prices are based on parking demand, which dropped at the Expo stations that initiated fees earlier this year. What’s interesting is that the busy Culver City station continues to be gratis, but that parking lot will soon bite the dust to make way for a big mixed-use development—when completed, commuters will be able to park in a subterranean garage, and likely have to pay for the privilege.
In the transit system’s early days, the free parking perk was seen as a way to lure more riders. But lots soon filled up by 7 a.m.—especially at the Valley’s Red Line stations—and it seemed a waste of resources to not squeeze some bucks from the lots, which, of course, cost money to maintain. With the ubiquity of Uber and Lyft—and the rapidly expanding footprint of the rail system—it’s now easier than ever to get to a nearby rail station. It won’t be long before all the stations charge for parking, but that’s simply the cost of a maturing city.