Next year Sound Transit will start outreach to get feedback on plans to offer reserved parking for solo drivers who are frequent transit riders, including Sounder train users at Kent Station.
The permits could be available in late 2018. The initiative is the next step for the agency as it develops new ways to manage limited parking resources, according to a Dec. 7 Sound Transit media release.
In September 2016 the agency rolled out its Carpool Permit Parking Program, which has been a success with almost 300 permits issued to new carpoolers.
While walking, biking, getting dropped off or taking a bus to the station or transit center are the agency’s preferred way to get people to and from the train or bus, programs like these can make a big difference for many commuters by providing the peace-of-mind of knowing they will have a place to park without having to arrive earlier than needed.
That extra time can mean a lot for busy commuters who may have to drop kids at childcare or can’t get to the station by 6 a.m. to find a parking spot.
Managing transit parking resources through carpool and solo driver permits is not a new idea; Sound Transit studied parking options for two years while also looking at how other transit agencies around the country manage their parking.
How to get a permit
Exactly how and where the solo driver permits will be rolled out are part of the outreach coming next year, but here’s the basic information.
Like the carpool program, solo drivers who take transit an average of three times a week or 12 times a month will be eligible. The agency verifies transit use through ORCA fare card data and check for regular usage monthly to renew the permits.
For now Sound Transit is considering the following locations where the carpool permits are also available:
• Angle Lake Station (Link light rail)
• Tukwila International Boulevard Station (Link light rail)
• Auburn Station (Sounder)
• Federal Way Transit Center (ST Express)
• Kent Station (Sounder)
• Puyallup Station (Sounder)
• Sumner Station (Sounder)
• Issaquah Transit Center (ST Express bus)
• Tukwila Station (Sounder)
Sound Transit has almost 12,000 parking spots at 37 locations serving the regional transit system. Most of these are full or over capacity on weekdays. Only lots that Sound Transit owns and manages and are more than 97 percent full for three consecutive months are currently eligible for the permit programs, or those that were built to serve Link, such as Angle Lake.
Up to half of the parking spots at any location may be eligible for permit parking based on the demand for permits. That’s the same setup as Sound Transit has today with the HOV permit program.
The reserved spaces would only be available during weekday morning rush hours and would revert to first-come, first-served parking afterwards.
How much will it cost to get a solo parking permit?
This is one of the big questions the agency will seek feedback on as part of the outreach next year.
Sound Transit is considering a range of $15 per month to cover administrative costs, up to $90 a month based on the market-rate average of pay lots near the permitted stations. Any revenue from the program beyond administrative cost coverage would fund access improvements in the communities where the money was collected.
The carpool permits are currently $5 a month. This fee could be eliminated with the start of a solo permit program.
Reduced fee parking permits
The agency also is considering reduced fee parking permits for transit riders who qualify for the ORCA LIFT reduced transit fare program. These could range from $0 to 50 percent of the regular solo driver price.