Transit agencies shell out big bucks to build and operate parking facilities. But how much do we really know about what they get for their money?
Researchers Lisa Jacobson and Rachel Weinberger surveyed 37 American transit agencies about park-and-ride facilities. They found that despite the expense of park-and-rides and the fact that many spaces go unused, most of the 32 agencies that manage parking are still planning to build more of it.
Here are six big take-aways from their recent report, published by the Transportation Research Board [PDF].
1. Most transit passengers don’t park and ride
People who park at stations account for about 22 percent of total ridership across the 32 agencies that offer park-and-ride facilities. Even looking only at commuter rail and express bus service — the two modes closely associated with park-and-rides — most passengers don’t use parking. For commuter rail, 41 percent of passengers park and ride, and for express buses the figure is 30 percent.
2. Many park-and-ride lots don’t come close to filling up even at peak hours
Even during weekdays, park-and-ride lots are, on average, only 65 percent full. The authors say this “would be considered underutilized based on parking industry standards,” meaning a private company with so much empty parking stalls would consider doing something else with the land.
“On average, this sample of transit agencies has approximately 155,000 unused parking spaces on any given day,” the report states. That’s about a square mile of empty parking.