Sound Transit, King County Metro seek public feedback on reserved solo-driver permit parking at transit facilities

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This news release was issued jointly by King County Metro and Sound Transit.

Public can take online survey, provide comment in neighborhood drop-in sessions

To better manage demand at the region’s park-and-rides and transit centers, Sound Transit and King County Metro are seeking feedback on a parking permit program that would allow solo drivers to pay for a reserved space at select transit facilities.

Beginning Feb. 14, the public can comment on how solo driver parking permits might better serve transit customers, as well as proposed pricing options for permit parking, through an online survey at https://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/4178861/Parking-Permit-Program-Expansion-Survey. Surveys should be completed by March 31. The public can also provide comment at several neighborhood drop-in sessions taking place throughout the region starting March 8. A complete schedule of these sessions is available at https://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/4178861/Parking-Permit-Program-Expansion-Survey.

More options for customers

Sound Transit and King County Metro currently offer permit parking programs for carpoolers at some transit facilities. An expanded reservation program that also serves solo drivers, or single-occupancy vehicle (SOV) transit users, would provide options to better serve commuters’ needs.

The number of people and jobs are growing throughout the region, making park-and-ride lots more popular than ever. When lots fill up early, there is often no space left for workers with later start times, parents who drop kids at school before heading to the park-and-ride, or other transit users who need to travel later in the day. Solo permit parking can offer customers increased certainty and ensure more equitable access to parking users.

At the most popular transit facilities, people are arriving earlier and earlier to secure a space – which can increase crowding on early buses and trains while seats remain empty on later transit trips. Permit parking also improves transit operations by spreading out demand for space on buses and trains.

Public feedback collected through this effort will be shared with the Sound Transit Board of Directors, the King County Executive and the King County Council to inform the approach for better managing parking at transit facilities. If approved, SOV permit parking could be implemented at Sound Transit facilities later this year and at Metro facilities as early as 2019.

SOV permits would provide reserved access for transit-riding solo drivers willing to purchase permits. Permits would be optional; transit customers without permits would still have access to a portion of participating lots which would remain free and available on a first-come, first-served basis as they are today. SOV permit prices will be determined by the Sound Transit Board and King County Council in consultation with the public, and could range from $15 per month—which equates to less than a dollar a day and a level necessary to recover administrative costs—up to prevailing market rates. HOV permits will remain at $5 per month or less. Fees collected could help support improved customer facilities and increase access to the transit system.

A push to better manage parking

In 2012, the Sound Transit Board of Directors asked staff to update the agency’s parking policy and develop a pilot project to test new parking management strategies. The agency implemented a pilot in 2015 to test High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) and SOV permit parking. In 2016, the agency introduced the HOV permit parking program as the first phase of managing parking at nine of its facilities. Expanding parking permits to solo drivers represents the next phase of this effort. 

Similarly, managing parking at King County Metro’s facilities is a high priority element of the Council-adopted Metro Connects long-range plan. In 2017 Metro introduced an HOV permit parking pilot program at 15 facilities. This year the King County Council and Executive will consider the next steps Metro will take towards parking management.

Sound Transit and Metro are collaborating on this outreach effort to improve customer experience, develop a shared understanding of customer needs and priorities, and support coordinated development of parking management strategies at facilities across the region.

Sound Transit and King County Metro operate 164 owned and leased parking facilities in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. Each month, parking counts are conducted. The latest available data shows that among facilities where the agencies are allowed by state law to manage parking through pricing options,  23 see 90 percent or greater regular weekday occupancy, and 13 see 100 percent or greater regular weekday occupancy.

Current Sound Transit policy provides that the agency considers parking management strategies for facilities at or above 97 percent occupancy for three consecutive months, and/or serves a Link light rail station. King County Metro considers carpool parking permit implementation at facilities with 90 percent or more utilization.

HOV parking program

The effort to seek feedback on a parking permit program for SOV transit users follows the implementation of a parking permit program for high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) users. The HOV program was implemented by each agency at the following respective 24 facilities:

  • Sound Transit: Angle Lake Station, Auburn Station, Federal Way Transit Center, Issaquah Transit Center, Kent Station, Puyallup Station, Sumner Station, Tukwila International Boulevard Station and Tukwila Sounder Station.
  • King County Metro: Eastgate Park & Ride, Redmond Park & Ride, South Renton Park & Ride, Issaquah Highlands Park & Ride, Northgate Transit Center, South Kirkland Park & Ride, Green Lake Park & Ride, Wilburton Park & Ride, Tukwila Park & Ride, Aurora Village Transit Center, Kingsgate Park & Ride, Kenmore Park & Ride, Bear Creek Park & Ride, Bothell Park & Ride and Renton Metropolitan Place Garage at Renton Transit Center.

Facilities were selected for the HOV parking permit program based on high parking demand at these facilities.

Detailed information about the parking permit program is available at: /blog/platform/reserved-parking-sound-transit-and-king-county-metro-want-your-feedback-paid-parking and https://kingcountymetro.blog/2018/02/14/have-a-say-on-reserved-permit-parking-for-transit-customers/