July 12, 2016 2:23 pm
Updated: July 12, 2016 5:12 pm

Cost and number of paid park and ride stalls in Edmonton going up

The Century Park park-and-ride lot, May 2, 2016.

Emily Mertz, Global News

City council voted Tuesday to reserve as much as 75 per cent of Edmonton’s park and ride stalls at LRT stations for paid parking and to increase the cost of a monthly stall.

The decision came after a recommendation from the Transportation Committee, which also suggested increasing the cost of a paid stall from $40 per month to $50 per month.

The exact percentage of paid spots will likely vary by lot.

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“Parking pricing is a demand management strategy and right now we’re managing that demand very poorly,” Mayor Don Iveson said.

“If you give away something that is very valuable to people for free – basic economics – you’re always going to have way more demand for it than you have supply.

“Shifting this into more of a demand management approach I think makes sense,” Iveson said.

The mayor also said there could be options to have some hourly parking, changes for seasonal parking, time of day, day of the week or during special events. Still, he said the ultimate goal is improve transit so people don’t have to drive or park at all.

“Generally speaking, to load the LRT with human beings who come from close by or connect to it by bus – that is how most people actually get on the LRT today,” Iveson said. “There’s 12,000 or 13,000 boardings a day from the Century Park LRT Station. The majority of those come from people walking to it or people coming to it by bus. And yet, because we have this big parking lot there, the visual signal to everybody is that everybody who gets on and off the train is coming by park and ride. Many do, but that’s actually not the main source of traffic.

“We need to keep our eye on the prize which is getting people better bus service to connect to the LRT through the transit review and more development around LRT so people can actually walk to it.”

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

The city has been trying to find ways to meet the growing demand for park and ride space in Edmonton’s four lots.

There was some frustration by members of council over why it’s taken so long to look at the issue.

“We’ve had lines for 40 years,” Ward 7 councillor Tony Caterina said during a July 5 meeting. “No one has ever thought of park and ride and how we’re going to accommodate that until today? That’s my frustration.”

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 to remain free to ensure affordable transit. Other people said they were willing to pay more to ensure a worry-free commute.

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

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

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.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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