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Edmonton LRT commuters may soon pay more to park and ride

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WATCH ABOVE: Thousands of people are willing to pay to reserve a parking spot at the Century Park LRT lot. By September, many more stalls could become available. But as Kendra Slugoski reports, it will come at a cost to those who park for free – Jul 5, 2016

LRT passengers who use Edmonton’s four city-run park and ride lots may soon have to pay more for the service.

The City of Edmonton’s Transportation Committee has recommended city council increase the cost of a paid stall from $40 per month to $50 per month.

“$10 was a reasonable amount considering we haven’t raised it in the last five years,’ Transit Manager Eddie Robar said.

The Transportation Committee also recommended that up to 75 per cent of the parking stalls in the four LRT park and ride lots be made available for paid parking.

“Part of that conversation was really around, at what point do you start to make different choices? We want to make sure we still encourage the transit choice,” Robar said.

The recommendations come after city administration was asked to find solutions to solve the high demand for LRT park and ride stalls in Edmonton. There was some frustration by members of council over why it’s taken so long to look at the issue.

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“We’ve had lines for 40 years. No one has ever thought of park and ride and how we’re going to accommodate that until today? That’s my frustration,” Tony Caterina, Ward 7 councillor, said.

READ MORE: How Edmonton plans to address park-and-ride pressures

Some commuters Global News spoke with Tuesday said paying for transit is enough.

“I think it should be more unpaid, personally. I take the LRT to school and I don’t really have the money to spend on extra parking. That’s why I come here, for the free parking,” Kenzie Druar said from Stadium Station.

There are four city-run LRT park and ride lots in Edmonton, at the Clareview, Belvedere, Stadium and Century Park stations. Of the 3,955 parking stalls available, 556 of them – or 14 per cent – are currently paid stalls.

The wait lists for paid parking stalls at all four stations are long, particularly at Century Park where 3,540 people have their names on the list. The free parking stalls at Century Park are usually full by 7 a.m. on weekdays.

READ MORE: Finding parking a daily battle for Century Park commuters

City administration surveyed about 4,000 LRT users to get their input on a possible solution. Administration said results were mixed, with some people asking the lots remain free to ensure affordable transit. Other people said they were willing to pay more to ensure a worry-free commute.

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The city said users did not want to pay more than $50 a month for a parking spot.

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Paid and free parking stalls are available at the Stadium LRT Station park and ride lot, pictured on Tuesday, July 5, 2016. Kendra Slugoski, Global News
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Paid and free parking stalls are available at the Stadium LRT Station park and ride lot, pictured on Tuesday, July 5, 2016. Kendra Slugoski, Global News
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Paid and free parking stalls are available at the Stadium LRT Station park and ride lot, pictured on Tuesday, July 5, 2016. Kendra Slugoski, Global News

The Transportation Committee also recommended that paid hourly parking stalls be provided at LRT park and ride lots “at a rate reflecting the combined transit fare and local short-term parking market rates.”

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All of the debate comes as the lease on the Century Park park and ride is set to expire in 2020. The land is owned by a developer and is planned for a transit-oriented development containing condos and businesses.

The city is working on a plan for an alternative site for the park and ride, which would see commuters shuttled to a lot about four kilometres away.

READ MORE: Century Park LRT park and ride to disappear in less than 4 years

Edmonton city council is set to debate the issues at a meeting next week. The Transportation Committee hopes the changes could come into effect by September.

“It’ll be an interesting discussion at council and a decision will be made in a week,” Bryan Anderson, Ward 9 councillor, said.

On July 1, Northlands opened up 654 paid parking stalls for park and ride users on a first-come, first-serve basis. LRT passengers can guarantee themselves a parking spot for $75 per month. The stalls are just a short walk from the Coliseum LRT Station.

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