Parking Madness: Norfolk vs. New York


What good is transit doing if it’s not set up to get people out and about and walking? That’s the question we’re asking in the Parking Madness tournament this year as we look at transit stations surrounded by parking lots.

So far, parking craters in St. Louis, San Bernardino, Medford, and Poughkeepsie have advanced to the second round. Voting is still open in the Little Rock vs. Atlanta match.

Today, a terminal station in Norfolk, Virginia, goes up against a stadium complex in Queens.

Norfolk, Virginia


The Tide is a 7.4-mile light rail route that opened in 2011. The Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s Joseph Cutrufo nominated this area at the end of the line:

The western terminus of Norfolk, VA’s “The Tide” light rail line near the Eastern Virginia Medical Center is surrounded by mostly parking. Throw a stone in virtually any direction from the light rail platform and it’s going to land in a parking lot, a seven-level parking deck or a super-wide stroad. I wrote a little bit about that station area last year in this blog post.

In his post, Cutrufo notes that The Tide has the highest per-passenger subsidy of any rail line in the nation. This kind of land use may help explain why.

Queens — Willets Point/Citi Field


What happens when you combine sports stadiums, some Robert Moses highways, a subway station and a commuter rail stop? You get this entry, which comes to us from reader Hugh Shepard:

New York City subway stations usually aren’t surrounded by a ton of surface parking, but the area around Mets-Willets Point subway and Long Island Railroad station is a big exception. A huge parking lot for Citi Field, as well as the Willets Point Commuter parking lot, and other parking lots for the Corona Maintenance facility surround the station. As you can see, when there is no ballgame at Citi Field, or when the US Open is not going on, all of these parking lots sit empty.

Why this example is particularly bad is because of its amazing location. Housing is in a high demand in NYC, and the area is just a two-minute subway ride from Downtown Flushing, which is an extremely dense and busy Queens neighborhood. Also, the area is only a 26-minute subway ride from Midtown Manhattan. So clearly, demand would be there for walkable development of all sorts. The whole area is just a huge waste of space, and I can’t believe that it hasn’t been developed yet.

The voting is open until Monday at 2 p.m. Eastern Time.

Which city has the worst parking crater?

  • New York (75%, 189 Votes)
  • Norfolk (25%, 62 Votes)

Total Voters: 251


14 thoughts on Parking Madness: Norfolk vs. New York

  1. Stadiums in cities are craters all by themselves. Of course, the huge parking lot makes the crater even bigger.

  2. While the current situation is certainly not ideal, the land needs to remain with the park.

  3. Although Queens is obviously the bigger parking crater by volume, I do not think it is a “waste of a transit stop” as defined in previous installments. Do we not want people taking transit to baseball games? It would be more of a shame not to have a transit stop outside of Citi Field.

  4. Baseball much less so than Football or Soccer. A baseball stadium can expect a large game crowd 80-90 days a year while Football gets only 8.
    Schools get 180 and offices 250, so a baseball stadium is bad, but not horrible.

  5. Norfolk is worse. Easy call.

    Willets Point is one stop in a remote corner of Queens, whereas the Norfolk stop should be prime real estate.

    Now granted, there’s only one stop on the train after Willets point, but I think it overall shows a better way to run transit to places people don’t necessarily want to go every day: place the stop along a line you’d be building anyhow (or can create as infill), instead of doing stuff like running an airport train explicitly as an airport train and not as something for people to use to get around every day.

    For instance, look at the SeaTac light rail link that basically exists to go between the airport and downtown Seattle and that happens to be useful for some people to use as commuter rail, and then compare it to the DC Metro National Airport stop. It sits between two jobs/housing centers, so it’s an extra stop along a route that people are riding on a daily/routine basis anyhow, instead of being a rail link that you have no reason to ride if you’re not going to the airport; and because of that it happens to create a very convenient <=20 minute ride between two places where a lot of people are likely to be coming from.

  6. I’d say basketball/hockey arenas are the best neighbors. Between the two leagues you have a lot of home games; the stadiums are typically designed to be convertible to other uses such as concert spaces so that further drives up the utilization rate of the venue; and even in the US it’s normal for them to have very expensive-to-use parking or an expectation that you’re either taking transit there or paying for a private lot nearby, so even in the US they typically don’t have a sea of parking around them.

  7. Which is why I wonder if it makes sense to just go all Broad St and Pattison Ave (philadelphia) – but with less parking.

    With 2 new stadiums / arenas potentially being built in NYC (indoor arena for the Islanders, outdoor soccer-specific for NYFC) why not just dig up a bunch of surface parking around Shea and keep all the those sports venues PLUS the US open in the same place? Yes, there will be whiners about the loss of parking but there are two train stations right there.

  8. There could actually be decent pedestrian access from Willets Point to Citifield.
    From Corona its a crappy walk over a big highway.

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