Parking Madness: Poughkeepsie vs. Fairfield

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Transit is scarce enough already in the United States. Then we make it even less accessible by surrounding stations with parking.

In this year’s Parking Madness tournament, we’re getting a look at how, even near transit stations, parking takes up huge amounts of space, squandering opportunities for walkable development. So far, parking craters by transit stations outside St. Louis and Boston are through to round two, and voting is open until tomorrow afternoon in the San Bernardino vs. Chicago match.

Today we have two Metro-North station areas facing off, one on the Hudson Line and the other on the New Haven Line — it’s Poughkeepsie vs. Fairfield.

Poughkeepsie

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Reader Jay Arzu went to college in this New York town. Above you can see the immediate surroundings of its train station. The parking around the Metro-North stop is symptomatic of a broader problem downtown, he says:

Poughkeepsie was unfortunately hit with a large amount of urban renewal in the 1950s’ through 60s’. The Poughkeepsie Central Business District was ripped apart and replaced with large surface parking lots. The city is trying to redevelop them but I think that the public shame of Parking Madness will help the county with the process.

Fairfield

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In Connecticut, this recent addition to the New Haven Line was supposed to catalyze walkable development, but that hasn’t happened, says reader Sandy Johnston:

Fairfield Metro opened in 2011 as an infill station on Metro-North’s New Haven line (I used to watch construction during my trips between college in NYC and friends in New Haven). Intended, in part, to spur dense development in the surrounding area, the station has instead basically only functioned as a park-and-ride with a giant 1,500-space parking lot. Between developers missing the cratering market for large-scale office parks in Fairfield County and NIMBYism, the supposed TOD district around the station remains largely in stasis almost six years after opening.

You can vote below until Friday at 2 p.m. Eastern Time.

Which city has the worst parking crater?

View Results

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  • Jeff

    This year is a bit boring because it’s very focused on parking at commuter rail stations. While I agree this is a problem, in years past each entry degraded the urban environment in its own unique way, which gave a bit more “texture” to the whole thing.

  • Joseph Cutrufo

    Based on one trip to Poughkeepsie, it seems like there ought to be more happening around the station/waterfront/Walkway Over the Hudson.

  • Larry Littlefield

    The overhead view is a little misleading. The downtown is up a cliff from the railroad, park and parking area. This isn’t downtown, and it’s nowhere near the entrance to the Walkway Over the Hudson, which is back further where the bridge finally hits ground level.

    Midway up the slope Route 9 also becomes a semi-highway in Poughkeepsie, half way up the slope, cutting off the waterfront further. It’s like the piers area below Brooklyn Heights.

    While the Hudson doesn’t tend to flood I’m not sure what should be down there, other than more park.

  • Joseph Cutrufo

    There is an elevator in Upper Landing Park that goes up to the Walkway near the river’s edge. It got really heavy use when I was there, with far fewer people walking all the way to eastern end of the Walkway.

  • Timothy Ondrey

    This is a terrible comparison and even more in it’s entirety, a waste of a post. Poughkeepsie has a 3 story parking garage on the left. The parking lot is accessible to the numerous storefronts that are RIGHT THERE!!! The parking lot to the right of Main St is for the tenants in the building and housing just out of the frame.

    What is even the point of this article? Stations aren’t supposed to have parking because it doesn’t allow for people to walk around? Where am I supposed to park if I’m at the station for oh I don’t know…getting on a train?

  • Wilfried84

    I ride a bike in and out of that station a few times a year. Access isn’t bad. Now that there’s elevator access to the Walkway, you don’t even have to ride city streets, if you’re going that direction. Just watch very early closing hours in the off season.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Those folks probably parked in the lot.

  • Andrew

    If the only way people can even imagine arriving at a train station is to drive there, we have a bigger problem on our hands.

  • Mike

    Those Poughkeepsie lots just got rezoned for Transit Oriented Development and had a request for proposals sent out. So it’s bad, but there are people trying to fix things at least. Fairfield seems like it was intended to be a giant surface lot.

  • Jason

    It’s hard to decide here but I wound up choosing Fairfield. I know from personal experience, having gone to Bard, that Poughkeepsie to NYC is a fucking slog because of many stops along the route. Something like a two hour ride. I know there’s people who commute to NYC from Poughkeepsie…but it’s an awful idea. And as other people mentioned, Poughkeepsie’s downtown isn’t near the station, plus the other near the station just got rezoned for TOD.

    Meanwhile the Fairfield station, on top of failing at spurring the intending TOD, makes Fairfield accessible to both NYC and New Haven. 1h15m and 45m, respectively. It’s more on the outside bounds of a sane commute than Poughkeepsie is. And a day trip into the city is something I could see doing relatively spur of the moment from Fairfield, whereas with Poughkeepsie it’s enough extra travel time that you have to know ahead of time that you need to clear your schedule and get up early to make it worth it.

    So overall, Fairfield is the bigger shame. No amount of improved development around the Poughkeepsie station is going to solve the problem that you’re not really taking the train anywhere other than NYC from there and that it’s a long ride (even spending the extra money on Amtrak won’t cut the travel time down that much). Whereas Fairfield SHOULD present something more like a Wiehle-L’Enfant (DC Metro) situation.

  • iSkyscraper

    If you want to talk commuter rail and parking, the above are wee parking babies compared to Toronto’s GO Transit’s stations. I mean, just look at this image:

    https://goo.gl/maps/qZ8wHhTLCyG2

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