Exit133 is about Tacoma
Are You Prepared to Pay to Park at the Tacoma Dome Transit Center?
Free parking at the Tacoma Dome is great. We can drive down there and catch the bus to Seattle for the day. Visitors to Tacoma can park there and take the Link into the heart of downtown without the hassle of looking for on-street parking. Downtown employees and students can park and not worry about moving their cars every 90 minutes.
But free parking at the Tacoma Dome also doesn't directly raise any revenue to cover operating and maintenance expenses at the garage - especially not from those folks parking for free and then either walking or grabbing the free Link. According to a recent article from The News Tribune, Pierce Transit, the owner of the facility, hired a consulting firm to conduct a study of operations at the garage.
The consultant's study looks at the use of the garage, as well as parking rate structures at parking in the surrounding neighborhood. The recommendation that came back was that Pierce Transit start charging drivers to park in the garages. $2 a day, or $40 a month are the rates named in the TNT article. If implemented, the funds raised by pay parking would cover operations, maintenance, and improvements at the garages.
The consultant's recommendation is being studied by Pierce Transit. If the transit agency decides the idea has merit, they would take the idea to the public for comment. They would also have to negotiate an agreement with Sound Transit, whose riders also use the garage. According to a Sound Transit spokesperson quoted in the TNT story, any changes "would likely be a year or more from now."
Anyone who has parked (or tried to park) at the garages during the week knows well that they are often at full capacity, especially on the upper floors where all day parking is allowed. Sound Transit just announced additional Sounder trips - potentially adding to demand for parking at the Tacoma Dome station. The expansion of Tacoma's Link light rail will extend that connection to Stadium, the hospitals, and the Hilltop. It seems hardly likely that we will see parking demand decline.
Parking has always been free at the garages, since they first opened back in 1997. Tacoma has changed quite a bit in the last 20 years - is it time for a change to the parking garages too?
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