RFTA says unauthorized parking steals spaces from riders
The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s ridership soared enough in 2014 that the public bus agency needs every space in its parking lots and will start cracking down on scofflaws.
RFTA staff members estimated from observation that between 15 and 20 percent of parking spaces in its lots are getting used by employees and patrons of nearby businesses, by commuters sharing rides and by people storing vehicles or trying to sell them, according to Mike Hermes, director of facilities.
“It’s the same issue as in all the towns,” Hermes said. “It’s not new.”
RFTA estimates that between 133 and 178 parking spaces systemwide are getting used every day by people coordinating ride share and “other extraneous uses,” Hermes wrote in a memo to RFTA’s board of directors.
In one case, a business uses between 10 and 20 parking spaces in a RFTA parking lot per day, according to Hermes. He didn’t name the business or the parking lot.
The unauthorized uses make it difficult for bus riders to find places to park. Ridership was pacing 20 percent ahead of the prior year through October compared to the prior year, according to RFTA. More than 4.12 million passengers had taken bus rides over that period in 2014, including 2.3 million on Roaring Fork Valley commuter service. The valley commuters typically need the parking lots.
“The excess demand for parking is so great that riders attempting to use the RFTA system are parking in every conceivable space and creating significant parking enforcement issues for staff,” Hermes wrote in the memo.
The staff has received a number of comments about the scarcity of parking, he said. “Many people are expressing a strong desire to use transit but are frustrated by the difficulty in finding parking,” Hermes wrote. The Post Independent last month reported that the shortage is especially acute at the park-and-ride lots in Carbondale and at 27th Street in Glenwood Springs.
Ride sharing is a use of RFTA lots that the staff acknowledged some people might say is compatible. It encourages more efficient travel, reduces congestion and energy consumption. On the other hand, it takes away parking spaces at the bus stations from people who want to ride the bus.
“We built parking for transit,” Hermes said.
RFTA will start slow in its efforts to prevent unauthorized parking. Signs explaining the parking rules will be erected in the parking lots within 60 days, Hermes said, and flyers will be placed on vehicles that RFTA staff members suspect of unauthorized parking.
RFTA isn’t considering a parking pass approach because it would either require personnel or a security gate. “We’re not ready for that yet,” Hermes said.
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