BART’s Board of Directors discussed switching to a demand-based pricing system for parking lots and potential promotions to encourage general ridership at its Feb. 13 meeting.
The proposed parking lot pricing system could potentially increase BART’s daily spot reservation fee from its current range of $2-$3 to up to $6. This increase would help ensure parking availability throughout the day and encourage customers to use alternative transit options instead of cars, according to a presentation made at the meeting.
“When you’re in this situation, one option is to expand parking supply,” said BART parking program manager Ryan Greene-Roesel at the meeting. “At a lot of stations it’s not feasible to expand the supply of parking and so really the only other tool that we have to manage for availability is the parking price.”
Greene-Roesel added that BART is looking to increase supply at the Antioch station to make parking more available. He also noted at the meeting that riders preferred a major increase in parking instead of multiple smaller adjustments that they viewed as a “burden” in 2013 and 2015.
According to Greene-Roesel, most BART parking lots are 95% full most days and nine station lots regularly fill up by 8 a.m. Currently, about 40,000 people are on a waitlist for a monthly permit, which costs $84-$105 but may go up to $180, according to the presentation.
“Commuting right now on BART is already pretty expensive,” said Berkeley City Councilmember Kate Harrison. “However, if you were to drive, you’d pay the $5 toll and gas and parking when you got there, so I think it’s cost-effective.”
Despite station parking lots filling up before the usual workday begins, overall BART ridership has decreased in the last few years. To combat this decline, BART is considering doubling the amount of free weekend promotional tickets distributed to passengers and having kids ride free with an adult during the day on Saturdays.
According to the presentation, these programs would require a $600,000 increase in the promotional ticket budget as well as increasing the marketing distribution budget by $50,000.
BART director Rebecca Saltzman said in an email that she would like to see BART use some revenue from the fee increase to fund a bussing program to transport people to stations, particularly for those that do not currently have nearby connecting transit options.
Saltzman added that she has proposed implementing a 20% discount to low-income riders paying for parking in the case of fee increases.
“BART has partnered with transit agencies in the past to provide funding for bus service, so we have a model to base this on,” Saltzman said in an email. “I will be working with staff and the board in the coming months to figure out the details.”