A few months ago, I argued that UTA had its parking and riding situation backward; rather than give away parking and charge for transit, they should give away train rides and charge for parking.
And now it looks like at least half of that plan is coming true. A Twitter friend alerted me earlier this week to this story, which reveals that UTA plans to begin charging $1 a day for parking at the Draper station:
“The charges help defray the costs of maintaining the facility,” he said. “We want to keep the service as accessible as possible for people, so we try to keep the price down as much as we can.”
The two-level Draper garage, which opened in December along with the Draper FrontRunner station, currently has capacity for 300 vehicles but will eventually expand to 600, Allnatt said.
UTA is charging far less than needed to cover the costs of the parking. And the cost of rides on transit aren’t going down, so this isn’t really what I had in mind.
But this new policy still demonstrates that “free” parking is not actually free. Right now transit riders and tax payers fund the parking. You and I literally are paying for people to park their cars at transit stations. This new fee, which is comically small, means that the people who actually use the parking will bear a small responsibility for funding it. I just wish the fee was higher and the cost of riding the train was going down.
But in any case, this is the future: paid parking at transit stations. We should expect this type of policy at all Frontrunner stations, especially in the bigger cities along the Wasatch Front, in the future. And that’s a good thing because subsidizing parking for transit riders is vastly inferior to just subsidizing transit outright.