EDMONTON — Demand at Park and Ride facilities in Edmonton is far exceeding supply and charging for stalls may be a solution to ease the pain, according to a report released by the city.
The report, which is headed to the Transportation Committee on Wednesday, finds that competition for parking stalls is tight. On most days, unreserved stalls are not available after 7 a.m. at Century Park in south Edmonton, and after 8 a.m. at all other LRT stations.
“There is a clear need for an increase in supply. With the opening of the Metro line LRT ridership has increased and will create additional demand for Park and Ride in the northern sections of the transit system,” the report reads.
It’s a daily battle for student Harina Aujla, who often spends 45 minutes circling the Century Park lot looking for a parking spot.
“I wait for someone to come out of the LRT station so I can just follow them to their car,” she said.
The report found 87 per cent of stalls at LRT Park and Ride sites are free — meaning there are charges to park in the remaining 13 per cent — and money is needed to maintain and operate the park and ride facilities.
Given the difficulty of finding a free spot each morning, there is a huge waiting list for a reserved stall. For example, there are 240 assigned stalls at Century Park, but 3,540 people on the waiting list.
Aujla is one of those on the waiting list and she isn’t feeling optimistic.
“I will finish my degree and I still won’t have a parking spot,” she said.
Commuter Stephanie Nolan said it can be frustrating looking for a spot at the Park and Ride site.
“You can’t always depend on being on time if you’re looking for a Park and Ride spot,” she said.
The current cost of a reserved stall is $42 a month, which has not changed since 2010 and is lower than some other Canadian cities. A reserved stall in Winnipeg comes in at between $44 and $271 a month, while a reserved stall in Ottawa costs $53.50 a month, and in Calgary costs between $70 and $80 a month.
There are four recommendations listed in the report:
- Converting existing free stalls to paid reserved stalls
- Increasing the price to park in reserved stalls
- Offering time limits or charges for unreserved stalls, such as four-hour parking and daily parking rates
- Seeking alternative parking stalls at convenient places such as at malls and churches
The report said the recommendations would be helpful for places in the city where parking is scarce, such as downtown Edmonton and in the University of Alberta area.
But the possibility of more expensive paid stalls isn’t sitting well with some commuters.
Payge Legacy bought her reserved parking pass six months ago to avoid the headache of looking for parking, but she isn’t a fan of a potential price hike.
“The reason why I don’t park downtown is because it’s so expensive. If they were to raise it here, I probably wouldn’t park here. It wouldn’t be worth it,” she said.
However, Izak Roux, the chairperson of the ETS Advisory Board, which authored the report, said the status quo isn’t working and changes are needed.
“I think if the city doesn’t change the policy and the strategy towards Park and Ride, it means we hinder the growth of mass transit. We hinder more people making use of the transit system,” said Roux.
Roux said that the recommendations are “low hanging fruit” that can be done in the interim as the city mulls its long-term public transit strategy.
He would like to see all options on the table including adding more Park and Ride lots, expanding current parking lots and building multi-level parkades.
There are 5,022 Park and Ride stalls in the city, with 4,005 at LRT stations. There are eight Park and Ride facilities in total.