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?

Read more from The News Trinbune.

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Kerri O'connor

Are they taking into consideration the addition of the new Amtrak station being relocated to Freighthouse Square without any additional parking being added? What happens if you buy a month parking pass and like me, aren’t due in the city until later in the morning due to early morning meetings in Tacoma? I often find myself not able to park as it is.

January 29, 2016 at 3:24 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Good point - there should be a block of (higher) paid long-term parking for train passengers and even overnight trips to Seattle.  That will be made workable by daily pricing.  Better, more frequent Pierce Transit service to the T-Dome transit center would help too.

January 29, 2016 at 8:58 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Martha Hughes

I would not be happy about this - I take public transit to work and with the poor bus connections from my home to the transit center it would add another hour to my daily commute if I did door to door bus commute.  I work in Seattle because try as I might to find a job in Pierce county - it hasn’t happened.  I drank the Kool-Aid about taking public transit and now they are proposing a parking fee on the free parking they dangled as an incentive to take public transit?  Not happy.

January 29, 2016 at 6:08 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Tom Llewellyn

I don’t wanna pay more money just to get to work, so I can pay income tax, then come home and pay my mortgage and pay property tax.

I want people to be encouraged to take mass transit, not encouraged to drive in single passenger cars.

So, I’m again’ it.

January 29, 2016 at 8:02 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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I won’t like paying for parking, but I know it’s a necessity. At least I’m paying for what I’m using. How else is the parking garage maintained? Who is paying for it because it’s not the people parking there now. If we have to pay for parking at the hospital why not at a public transit hub.

January 30, 2016 at 9:35 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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This is what we pay taxes for.  I am seriously tired of being nickeled and dimed for tolls and parking in addition to the taxes we already pay, which are supposed to cover this sort of thing.  Also, if they start charging for the garage, they’re going to find a *lot* of people trying to park on the street to avoid paying, and what kind of a mess is *that* going to cause?

Didn’t we just go through this with them trying to charge for the Link light rail to downtown???

My captcha is had77.  Yes, I’ve pretty much had it, thanks.

January 30, 2016 at 4:33 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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I understand that a lot of people will be upset about this, but things have changed, and it is time for this to happen.  In the decade that I have lived in the Puget Sound region, I’ve seen park and rides go from reliable places where you could count on a parking space to catch a bus to a luxury amenity that one can only afford if they are willing to pay the cost of arriving prior to 6:30 am, or after 4:00 pm.  What about the person who has different working hours?  Maybe you are a UW student and have an 11:00 am class?  You do shift work and your shift starts at noon?  Currently, we are ALL paying for this amenity, but many of us are excluded from using it because during the hours we need it, the park and rides are all full.  Charging a VERY NOMINAL fee helps discourage people who could use another park & ride (perhaps you meet there for a carpool; you could meet somewhere else) and those who have other options, such as a local bus.  People complaining about this need to keep in mind that the rest of the taxpayers are already subsidizing your bus ride, and will continue to subsidize that formerly free and now still very cheap parking space.  I suppose you are all still free to drive your cars to Seattle and pay $20 per day for parking instead.

February 1, 2016 at 7:09 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Thirty five years ago, the newly established county-wisde Pierce Transit decentralized the old Tacoma Transit routes that all ended downtown by creating regional bus terminals (i.e., T.C.C., Tacoma Mall, Puyallup, Lakewood, 72nd and Portland, etc.).  Today, the Tacoma Dome Station is THE regional transportation center for Pierce County, not only serving riders bound for Seattle but also those with business or other activities in downtown Tacoma along the Sound Transit’s Tacoma Link line.  Now, some Pierce Transit routes should be reconfigured to lead on express routes to the Tacoma Dome from the older sub-regional transit centers at T.C.C. and 72nd and Portland.  When Portland opened the the original Banfield line of the MAX light rail system there along Interstate 84, the TriMet transit agency ended many preexisting east-west bus route into downtown Portland to encourage light trail usage.  If Sound Transit is going to charge for parking at the Tacoma Dome Station, there should also be better bus connections between that complex and sub-regional transportation centers to help discourage vehicle usage.  Aside from charging fees for parking that those with resources can afford, smarter bus transit planning should also be part of the equation.  Again, when MAX opened its original line, bus routes were modified in Portland to change behavior of transit riders.  Perhaps such changes can also happen locally so the Tacoma Dome Station can function efficiently as THE regional transportation center in Pierce County.  Downtown Tacoma is certain to grow as an employment and education center in Pierce County and faster local bus transit connections to outlying neighborhoods should be part of such planning, in addition to any discussion about parking fees for the Tacoma Dome Station garage.

February 1, 2016 at 3:42 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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You think anything about mass transit in Portland has much value to mass transit here in Tacoma? This might be hard for the Downtown crowd to understand, but many, many folks in Tacoma rarely go Downtown. From talking with Eastside residents about what they would like from transit, the idea of a local circle route from McKinley to Pacific Ave and back is really popular. I’d like to see Sound Transit get out of town and a local, user friendly and community controlled bus system take it’s place. Sorry, the Tacoma Dome Station is a parking garage, not THE regional transit center.

February 1, 2016 at 11:49 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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