News / Calgary

Calgary Transit defends 100 per cent reserved park-and-ride idea: some spots could be free

Mayor Naheed Nenshi calls the plot a "terrible" idea, adding park-and-ride users aren't evil

Courtesy/ Calgary Transit

No more driving around Calgary Transit’s park-and-ride for a spot that doesn’t exist – at least, that’s what administration is hoping to accomplish with an overhaul of the current model.

But it comes at a cost, and that’s the free parking spots currently available.

On Wednesday, administration is asking for councillors to consider moving towards a 100 per cent reserved parking model for Calgary Transit’s lots, that’s up from the current 50 per cent model.

Neil McKendrick, manager of transit’s operational planning, said this can allow the market to set parking prices, and even make room for some free and low-cost spots for those willing to reserve ahead.

Currently the city has a 7,500 wait-list for the five most coveted stations, and according to McKenrick that’s more spots than what’s available on the entire system.

“People really value being able to park near the end of the line, and they’re probably willing to pay for that,” said McKendrick.

He added that customers get frustrated burning rubber circling for 30 minutes after 6 a.m. for the last free parking space.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi agrees that demand-based pricing and optimizing free spots depending on time of day is something that should be looked into. He added the city should be finding a way to charge people living outside of Calgary more for parking – because they don’t pay property taxes.

“Making the lots 100 per cent reserved is a terrible idea and I think it goes exactly against our goal, especially in a time of declining ridership, which is to encourage people to take transit,” said Nenshi.

He related this situation back to the $3 park-and-ride days, which he said discriminated against transit users.

McKendrick said the city has just over 13,000 parking spaces – and that’s it – so Calgary Transit needs to figure out how to maximize those spots.

“We just want to make it as fair as we possibly can to make that parking space available to those customers. There’s a cost associated with it, but we’re not doing this change to bump up the revenues. We’re just trying to make it fair," said McKendrick.

Coun. Shane Keating said parking should be increased in partnership with the private sector to utilize off-peak times for those lots. Yes, if you have a stall in a condo-unit that you don’t use during the day, he’s looking at you.

“We are giving a service, but at the same time, can we offer that service for absolutely free when it’s a very high-demand service?” asked Keating. “The revenues generated would then allow for more parking at those specific locations.”

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