Discussion Topic: Paying to Park at DART Stations

A probably-Paul-Kix-liking FBvian e-mailed in with this:

How about that DART board? Gasoline prices send ridership soaring and people are crowding into the parking lots at the stations. So, someone says, why don’t we charge ’em to park in the parking lots? I catch the bus at the end of my street. I guess maybe at some point they’ll consider a boarding fee at the bus stops. Oh, wait; forget I said that.

OK, before we get crazy in the comments, to be perfectly clear: DART says commuters won’t have to pay to park anytime soon. “The Board is talking about options. No plans. No vote. Just discussion,” Morgan Lyons told the DMN‘s City Hall Blog. That said, it’s never too early to hear your thoughts. Because if it’s being talked about at any level, that means there is at least some chance of it happening.

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Comments

22 responses to “Discussion Topic: Paying to Park at DART Stations”

  1. Jim says:

    Before they charge for parking, why won’t one of the geniuses at DART contract with someone to put kiosks selling coffee, papers, magazines, water, anything. There’s your income stream, and you end up making customers happy, rather than ticking them off.
    Oh wait, I know why. The silly no drinks policy on DART trains. Oh how I miss those 32 ounce bud lights on the 50 minute ride out from Penn Station. Why is Dallas so afraid of booze?

  2. Wes Mantooth says:

    This is moronic. Just when the idea starts to catch on, they want to talk about disincentivizing riders. Jim is right about getting a concession on coffee & newsstands if they want to make additional non-fare income. If it’s booze on the train that they’re worried about, make the no-drinks period only after 8:00 p.m. on the train and let the commuters have their waters & coffees for the ride.

  3. Jim says:

    Well, if you’ve ridden DART, you’d know that drinking starts way before 8 p.m. for some of those characters. Why not simply limit the ban to no alcoholic beverages.

  4. OneArtDirector says:

    I used to ride DART back when I worked for DART as a freelancer. Every day, I’d have a cup of coffee on my way to to work and none of the “transit police” ever said a word. Then again, that’s probably because they were nowhere to be found.

  5. AS says:

    Absolutely charge people to park at the Dart Stations, it will encourage more people to take the bus to the station. It’s a limited resource, folks, and it takes funds away (maintenance, security, land purchase) from Dart’s transportation growth. In fact I wish the cities or TIF’s with the highest parking percentages would use funds to create city-owned parking garages. This shouldn’t just be Dart’s problem to solve.

  6. TheKid says:

    I wish they offered free parking at Union Station.

  7. Long Memory says:

    Take the bus? But buses are sooooo icky. C’mon, I’m kidding. As a dual-user, my only gripe is that at some times of the day (read “rush hour”) I end up standing during one leg of the commute. Make that two legs, because I almost ALWAYS have to stand when I catch the train any place but downtown Dallas. And as gas “plummets” down to the $3.50 range, I expect some people will begin to drift back to their autos. Idiots.

  8. Long Memory says:

    My, but that is one sensitive filter y’all have there. I only used the plural of the second definition for “a very stupid or foolish person.” Touchy, touchy.

  9. Bob says:

    Why not lease the Plano parking lots to the City of Plano? They could then allow Plano (and other DART-tax payer) residents to park for free, but charge non-residents (hear that Allen, Fairview, Frisco, McKinney, and points north?) Plano could then turn the parking proceeds over to DART as lease payments. This would allow the residents of the taxed cities to continue to park for free, while allowing DART to earn some extra money from its non-residents (who want to benefit from DART but are not willing, it seems, to share the economic burden of DART with the rest of us).

  10. Bill says:

    Reminder: DART is a taxing authority not a people moving transit agency.

    Once you get that stuck in your head, the rest makes sense.

  11. mediawonk says:

    Here’s what I’ve never understood: Why the heck doesn’t DART do more to sell advertising on platforms and trains?

    Nearly all of the in-train advertising slots are filled with house ads that don’t earn them anything, and many of the large spots on station platforms are either house ads or paid ads that are obviously long past their paid time (Union Station had ads for a new Nissan for over a year after the model was no longer “new”).

    If they would put more of a focus on that and figure out a good rate, they could probably sell all that inventory and open up a nice revenue stream. Instead, they want to charge for parking, likely to lessen the number of people paying to ride trains.

  12. Kirk says:

    Most metropolitan areas with developed commuter rail systems (e.g., Boston, Chicago, New York, Portland, San Francisco) charge to park in the suburban station parking lots. Some are metered; some are paid by resident permit. It makes sense, if you expect the lots to be paved, maintained, policed (and plowed, in some of those cities).

  13. Daniel says:

    Exurbs = freeloaders

  14. Bill says:

    Exurbs keep the toll roads a tollin’!

  15. Dallasite says:

    How about if they start actually charging to ride the trains? I, laughingly, had a DART employee insist that they have a 96% compliance rate on their trains. I very politely told him that he was full of **it.

    Since they run their trains on the honor system, I wonder if they’ll handle parking the same way…

  16. Bill says:

    “Gasoline prices send ridership soaring….”

    False. In May (last figures I’ve seen), DART carried less people than in May 2006.

    DART is an immensely successful PR agency, but when it comes to moving people they are one of the least efficient transit organizations in the world.

  17. mediawonk says:

    Bill, can you cite your source on those stats? I’m no DART apologist, but anecdotal evidence and personal experience both suggest that the trains (and buses, to a lesser extent) are indeed more full than they were two years ago. And their numbers seem to back that up.

  18. Long Memory says:

    Bill, I have to add that those figures are pre-gasoline price surge. In May, the trains were full. Since then the trains have been packed.

  19. mm says:

    @Dallasite: I don’t know which trains you ride, but I tend to believe the DART employee’s number. I ride north in the morning and south in the afternoon, and I get checked on almost every trip. And it’s rare when someone gets pinched for not having their tickets/credentials.

    @Bill: I’d like to see your stats, as well. I can’t speak for buses, but the trains are a lot more full than they were two years ago.

  20. JD says:

    Pay to park is the way to go. Most large cities do that. Otherwise, all kinds of riff raff park in the free spots much to the annoyance of commuters. And if you disagree with me, well, you must be a boron!

  21. Bill says:

    Different Bill here,

    I think DART numbers are higher in 2008 but not much. DART says that rail ridership is up 14% over last June. I believe that. Last June it rained like 2 feet. Who would want to ride the rails in that? It rained all day, everyday.

    Overall DART numbers are skewed because they count each and every car that wanders into the Central Expressway HOV lane as ridership. Which is stupid.

    The Mockingbird Station lot is always 1/2 empty. Just like it was last year.

    Just like the “other Bill” in the comments here, I don’t hold much faith in what DART says. They are masters of bending the truth.

  22. ArribraMibVat says:

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