Monday, May 12, 2008

More riders, but no more Park'N'Ride spots released a story about the frustration of transit users in Ottawa last week, notably with the shortage of Park'N'Ride spots for our cities commuters. The story cites statistics stating that about 68 riders compete for every spot:

Many of the 350,000 people who ride public transit each day compete for 5,100 parking spaces at OC Transpo's 11 suburban lots before transferring to a bus.

The chair of the city's transit committee acknowledged that the jump in gas prices is making the crunch at the park-and-ride lots, which was already a problem, worse.

"We know the challenge is there," he said. "We're trying to accommodate as best we can. We have in our plan to provide more park-and-rides."

I can surely sympathize with everyone who's had problems parking. I often park at the Eagleson Park'N'Ride, but I was ticketed a few months ago so I've started driving an extra 5-10 minutes to the Terry Fox Park'N'Ride.

In large part, the system is reliant on transit hubs with transfers from personal automobile onto an OC Transpo bus. If there's no place to stash our cars without getting ticketed, though, why on earth would we run the risk of dropping $55 to take the bus? The only alternatives are waking up absurdly early to try and beat the rush, or fighting through local routes--which normally come every 20-30 minutes, sometimes require another transfer before getting to large runs, and their milk-run routes generally take 2-3 times as long as driving would.

How much bigger should these lots get, though? The real estate spent already on parking lots could certainly be used more effectively as parkland or land for development, it doesn't make too much sense to expand 5,100 spaces to 20,000 or so to more fully accomodate Park'N'Ride users. But how else can we accomodate riders from the outskirts of the suburbs?

Do any readers have stories of good or bad experiences with Park'N'Ride service? Feel free to post in the Comments section.


Jason A. Chiu said...

Ottawa's experience with a shortage of Park 'n Ride spots is not uncommon.

The GOTrain stations in the GTA have similar issues. Many of the parking lots at prime stations in the outlying suburbs are filled before all the early-morning commuter trains leave the suburbs.

Customers, at some stations, have the option of reserving a spot at their GO Train station. Though, last I heard the cost was between 50-75 month.

Add this to the cost of a monthly pass, from say, Mississauga or Brampton (a 20-80 min drive to Toronto) and one can easily find themselves paying more than 200-250 dollars a month to commute into the CBD of Toronto. And, if you need to grab a subway or streetcar in the city, you could be looking at another 50-70$ a month.

The fact is parking is not only costly, but generally inefficient, environmentally and economically.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to share my experiences with park'n'rides, but i live near Blair and Innes - and if you know the area, you'd know there aren't any in this area. I can accept not having one, but what i don't like is the lectures i get from people who compain that i drive to work everyday. I plan to drive every day until i feel safe taking the bus in the dark at the end of the day. That means either a direct bus from my house, or a safe place to park my car close to a transit way.