Parking charges coming to Issaquah Transit Center
August 8, 2013
By Peter Clark
Sound Transit’s new pilot program will bring reserved parking to the Issaquah Transit Center.
During its July 25 meeting, the Sound Transit Board of Directors decided to further a pilot program, meant to gather information about and possibly alleviate the continued problem of overcrowded parking facilities. The plan allows for 10 percent to 20 percent of parking spots at four locations, Issaquah included, to be set aside for those who buy parking permits. Priced at $33 per quarter for single occupancy vehicles and $5 per quarter for carpools with at least two people, the permits would guarantee a spot.
“As of May 2013, 13 of 23 Sound Transit-operated customer parking facilities were at or above 90 percent capacity,” stated board documents. “Demand for park and ride spaces will continue to increase as transit service expands and regional population and employment grow.”
The board’s hope is that this program will provide information on how to manage existing and future parking facilities, as well as to promote ride sharing.
The Issaquah Transit Center, located at 1050 17th Ave. N.W., was chosen to be a part of the program due to its high use. Concerns with overcrowding at the center is nothing new.
“For several years we’ve had this conversation,” Sound Transit Spokesman Bruce Grey said about the parking. “Issaquah was picked because it’s full most days.”
Grey said that an average of 94 percent of the center’s 819 spots are used every day.
On the pricing, he elaborated that it was not meant to earn money for the organization. The board considered charging “market prices,” Grey said, but settled on setting prices lower.
“This is not a revenue generating idea,” he said. “For the most part, this is an information gathering program. We’ll be able to take it back to the board and say, ‘Here’s what worked; here’s what didn’t.’”
The idea, which was only one of many derived to combat full facilities, was in the works for at least a year. Sound Transit Board Member and Issaquah Council President Fred Butler said it directly resulted from a board retreat in April 2012, when parking became a priority.
“Many of our parking facilities are at or over capacity,” Butler said. “What we are trying to do is to take 10 percent of spaces for high occupancy vehicles and 10 percent for single occupancy drivers, put them in this program and see how it goes.”
He said citizens bring their concern over parking limitations to him on a regular basis.
“I probably get more emails about parking at facilities than any other complaints,” he said.
Though the program does not have a start date, Butler and Grey both indicated it would start early next year. Grey said that an information campaign would roll out in the fall to alert commuters to new options. Sound Transit would monitor its effectiveness over time.
“If people are willing to pay for guaranteed parking, that’s an indication,” Butler said about the methods the organization would employ to monitor usage. “We’ll see if this is something that appeals to regular transit riders.”
The board will also implement the plan on the Tukwila Park & Ride, Sumner Station and Mukilteo Station.
Reach reporter Peter Clark at email@example.com. Comment at SammamishReview.com.