AC Transit to subsidize car parking

AC Transit is looking to spend $28 million to subsidize construction of a new parking garage. Len Conly, a Friend of BRT is looking for support:

Dear All:

I need your help and that of your organizations to preserve parking
charges at AC Transit Park & Ride lots and prevent our riders from
subsiding car drivers.

There is a staff recommendation on the agenda for 11 June which will
lead to the elimination of parking charges for AC Transit Park & Ride
lots and garages. I apologize for the late notice.

I oppose spending public money for housing for cars because of air
quality (cold start and hot soak), wasted space and sprawl inducement
issues.

I fought that fight and lost, but in 2003 was able to win a modest,
cost recovery parking charge policy, copied below. (We put in bicycle
parking and other good things that are not at issue here.)

We have two Park & Ride lots -- Richmond Parkway in Richmond and
Ardenwood in Newark. At Richmond Parkway staff was following the
policy and was charging $3.00/day, which covers operating costs only.
At that rate the lot is one quarter empty, proving there is limited
parking demand at that location.

Staff wants to spend $28 million to build a 650 space garage at
Richmond Parkway, further subsiding the automobile and promoting
sprawl development. They are concerned that the demonstration of the
limited parking demand will endanger funds for that garage and are
recommending a "demonstration project" reducing the parking fee to
$1.00/day. There is no indication in the memo or otherwise that there
will be any change in the future that will lead to auto drivers being
willing to pay any more in the future.

In other words, AC Transit does not see sufficient interest in its park-and-ride lots, so it wants to lower the daily parking rate to below-market cost, in order to show "demand" for a parking garage.

The irony is that there is no such lack of demand for Transbay bike service. Bicyclists are frequently turned away from oversubscribed bike racks. That isn't to say I expect AC Transit to morph into a full-blown bike shuttle service, but the idea of a bus agency spending tens of millions to stimulate more car parking while turning away bicycle riding customers again shows the gross inequities in our transportation funding.

Of course, once we have spent $28 million on a garage, we will
continue to reduce prices until we fill the garage. The staff
memorandum is attached and can be accessed at:
http://www.actransit.org/aboutac/bod/memos/1ea287.pdf.

At Ardenwood, staff is ignoring the Board Policy and not charging for
parking.

In the course of discussing spending $8.2 million in public capital
money for parking in Ardenwood (by the Dumbarton Bridge), senior
management indicated that they wanted to revisit the parking charge
policy. Our General Manager ran a very large and successful park &
ride program in the New York area and has always been skeptical of
parking charges.

Comments should be sent to the District Secretary, Linda Nemeroff at
LNemeroff@actransit .org or via fax at 510-891-7157. I do not find
communications copied to each board member useful, but if you have a
relationship with or have endorsed board members, please contact them
and urge them to support transit riders over car drivers.

* Ward 1 * Joe L. Wallace 510-891-7143 jwallace@actransit. org * Ward 2
* Greg Harper 510-891-7145 gharper@actransit. org * Ward 3 * Elsa Ortiz
510-891-7211 eortiz@actransit. org * Ward 4 * Rocky Fernandez
510-891-7154 rrfernan@actransit. org * Ward 5 * Jeff Davis 510-891-7171
jdavis@actransit. org * At-Large * Rebecca Kaplan 510-891-7146
rkaplan@actransit. org

If you have any questions, please e-mail me or call me on my cell
(510-851-0968) . -- Chris Peeples --

AC Transit Parking Charge Policy from GM Memo No. 03-262a (8 Oct. ‘03,
p. 6)

5. Operating costs of all park and ride infrastructure owned or
operated by AC Transit will be funded by the users of the parking
facility. Federal highway regulations clearly limit the fees which can
be assessed at park and ride centers when federal highway funding has
been used to construct that facility, such that the fees can only
cover operating and maintenance costs; parking fees cannot be used to
subsidize transit operations.

6. The goal for parking fees is to reflect the amortized costs of
capital investment in a Park and Ride Transit Center, regardless of
how funded, as well as operating and maintenance costs discussed in 5.
above, except where specifically prohibited by funding source. The
Board may choose not to seek this goal in some circumstances. "