Transit riders at Monrovia, Irwindale and Azusa Pacific/Citrus College stations on the Gold Line Foothill Extension in the San Gabriel Valley will soon have to pay if they want to park their car and ride the train.
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is expanding its paid parking program after seeing success with it at other stops.
Most Metro parking lots had been free until last year, when the transit agency instituted a small fee at all but one of its Expo Line parking lots. Metro expanded that experiment to several stops on the Gold Line and, earlier this year, at two popular stations on the Red Line subway in the San Fernando Valley.
Metro officials hoped charging a $3 fee to use the lots would help them manage parking demand at popular locations where lots frequently filled to capacity by 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. The agency also instituted a higher fee of about $20 for those who park in the lot and don't ride transit, all in an effort to deter non-riders from parking in the station lots.
Officials have been pleased with the results so far. They noted last month that two of the most crowded lots at the Universal City and North Hollywood stops on the Red Line now have 80 to 120 spots open on a revolving basis throughout the day.
But has Metro's success in deterring some from parking at the stations also discouraged them from taking the train?
"We have no negative impact at all," said Frank Ching, Metro's director of parking management.
Ching said ridership has remained steady at most stations, and on the lines overall, despite some choosing not to pay the parking fee.
He said the reason for that is partly because people are using other modes of transportation to reach the stations. And parking at other stations is still free, such as those along the Orange Line rapid busway in the San Fernando Valley. There's also a new influx of people catching the train later in the day, when the parking lots used to be full.
While the expense to park at the most popular Metro lots may be higher, Ching said transit users now have a choice of prioritizing convenience over cost and paying to park at a popular station or heading to a less popular, but free parking station.
By the end of June, the Monrovia, Irwindale and Azusa Pacific/Citrus College stations will begin charging transit riders $3 per day to park. The paid parking program will then expand to the Silver Line bus station in El Monte and some Blue Line and Green Line station lots in the fall.