The free parking at some Los Angeles Metro stations may soon be coming to an end as the transit agency considers a pilot program to convert no-charge parking spots to paid ones.
The program is intended to manage parking demand at busy stations, help pay for building and operational costs for parking garages, and deter non-transit users from filling up the available spots. Those who don't take transit would be charged a significantly higher rate.
The Metro board will get its first glimpse of the proposal next week when the agency's staff presents a report at a meeting on Feb. 25. A board vote on adopting the new parking plan would take place in March or later. Then if approved, the plan would take effect in May or thereafter.
If the proposal is adopted, Metro riders would be charged the following all-day fees at these stations:
• Sierra Madre Villa (Pasadena) on the Gold Line, $2
• Atlantic (East L.A.) on the Gold Line, $2
• North Hollywood on the Red Line, $3
• Universal on the Red Line, $3
• Culver City on the Expo Line, $2
• La Cienega/Jefferson (Los Angeles) on the Expo Line, $2
• Expo/Bundy (West L.A.) on the Expo Line extension (opening later in 2016), $2
• Expo/Sepulveda (West L.A.) on the Expo Line extension (opening later in 2016), $2
• 17th Street/SMC (Santa Monica) on the Expo Line extension (opening later in 2016), $2
Non-Metro riders would pay a daily fee up to 10 times higher than that charged transit riders. TAP card readers installed at the garages would be used to verify transit use.
The pilot program would cover less than 25 percent of Metro's 22,000 parking spaces. The agency will study how the fees affect ridership and parking demand to determine whether to expand the program.
Many of the parking facilities along the new Expo Line extension to Santa Monica are in areas where parking is scarce and paid parking is the norm.
Metro's free parking has long been debated. Critics say at an average building cost of about $30,000 per space, the free parking subsidizes driving rather than supports more sustainable modes of getting to the transit stations like bus, walking or biking.
But some Metro riders consider free parking key to getting to and from the stations and an incentive to use the trains.
In its staff report, Metro found that less than 15 percent of riders at most stations in the pilot program were using the parking to access the trains, meaning the vast majority those using the trains already arrive by other means.
The pilot program is projected during the five-month trial period to raise about $600,000, which would be used for lot maintenance and security.