DART Paid Parking Program Lost $95,000, so Naturally It Plans to Make it Bigger

Categories: Transportation

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Last April, in a dual effort to ease parking shortages and make a little scratch, DART began charging some of the commuters parking at its northernmost light stations. The charge was $2 to $4 per day and applied only to drivers who live outside of DART's taxpaying area who parked at Frankford/North Carrollton and Parker Road stations and, a bit later, the Northwest Plano Park & Ride and Belt Line Station.

On the first metric, the program has been a success, albeit a qualified one. Between March, the month before paid parking went into effect, and December the number of cars at the Parker Road and North Carrollton stations dropped by about a third. But nearly that many extra cars began showing up at the next stops down the line -- the George Bush and Trinity Mills stations, respectively -- indicating that capacity problems have simply shifted to the south, where parking remains free.

That no doubt has a lot to do with DART's performance on the second metric: The program lost $94,498 over its first nine months. (Spokesman Mark Ball says the cost of the study is absorbed by the contractor, not DART.)

That doesn't mean DART is willing to admit defeat quite yet. In a report originally scheduled to be delivered this past Tuesday but delayed until next month, DART's vice president for planning and development, Todd Plesko, makes the case for extending the program for a second year and expanding it to include more stations.

So why double down on something that's not working? Mostly because there at least seems to be a fairly straightforward solution: start charging for parking at the next stations down the line. (Plesko specifically suggests George Bush, which the agency said was off the table as recently as last month).

Still, judging by the presentation, it seems that DART the contractor still hasn't found a good way to generate enough money through parking fees to cover the costs it pays to the vendor cost of running the program.

It's that question -- whether paid parking can be profitable -- that DART intends to answer in the program's second year.

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30 comments
director21
director21

I live in Dallas, but I occasionally used the Parker Road station because it was most convenient to where I was several times. Since the implementation of the fees I have not been back to that station because even though it would still cost me nothing I now have to park my car, walk over to the station, show my ID to get a parking pass, return to my car to place the pass on my dashboard and then return to the station to catch a train.


In inclement weather conditions that is just unacceptable. It is too inconvenient and too time consuming. In several instances I have chosen to just drive my vehicle to downtown rather than hassle with the parking.

WatchingSouthDetroit
WatchingSouthDetroit

Obama reviewing the situation in the Middle East probably didn't have to go though a 20+ page Powerpoint presentation.  What overkill.  Typical DART.  Typical Dallas.  Typical government waste.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

one thing one must consider are start up costs, infrastructure and other initial costs that are high initially, but really should be amortized over a longer time period.  What the article failed to mention is how the process works.  Are there drive by kiosks, or do you have to deal with a human being?  If it could be automated, that would certainly make things much more efficient.

big_oj
big_oj

So if they plan on doing paid parking at Downtown Garland, would it make sense to do it in Rowlett sine it's where the Blue Line ends, I wonder if even perhaps doing it at Lawnview or Buckner as well? There is sure many people from out-of-town as well. I rather spend my taxes on Pre-K than on a system that can't really seem to handle anything.

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

You misunderstand the program's purpose. It is there to keep the outer jurisdictions off DART's back. They are pounding on DART for letting other cities' residents just pay the fare. The fare pays very little of the overall cost. Jerking around residents of non-member cities makes the member cities feel better. People saying it hurts ridership do not understand DART's finances. Increasing ridership really only HURTS finances, especially if DART has to had capacity or staff to handle the load.

If you are from somewhere that does not send sales tax to DART, then you are a freeloader. No amount of your purchases inside DART will ease your freeloader status. Grow up and accept it.

BushwoodSmithie
BushwoodSmithie

The headline and article are wrong. DART didn't lose a penny. The parking lot operator is responsible for all operating losses.

russp
russp

If Dallas is in the name, mismanagement will be part of the game. Doesn't matter if it's the city, the buses or a football team.

Chuck_Schick
Chuck_Schick

How about working to add more cities to DART, therefore making expansion possible? It's obvious that residents of Allen and McKinney ride the Red Line. Bring it to them.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

Typical socialist thinking.  We're losing money to free riders in a system we designed to encourage free riding!  Quick, whack that mole!  It came up someplace else?  WHACK ALL THE MOLES!

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

Keeping the cars off the road in Dallas is worth subsidizing free parking for suburbanites. They'd just be causing more wrecks on Central while texting and watching movies on their fucking phones anyway.


Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Ditch that and put the worthless DART cops on 35 busting people for abusing the HOV lane and they'll rake in easy money.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

Well eventually you charge for parking so far south, that people just say fuck it, Im not paying to park and they drive on in, therby lower ridreship

drtz
drtz

@MikeWestEast 
Ever think residents outside of the DART service area might actually pay lots of sales tax that goes to DART?  As an example, I live in Allen but make far more retail and restaurant purchases in Dallas (where I work) and Plano (on my way home from work) than I do where my house resides.  
I fully support paying for parking in areas of high demand, but the idea that non-residents weren't paying "their fair share," as DART put it, is ridiculous.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@MikeWestEast yeah freeloaders fuck em, dont let non DART citizens on the train.  What an asshat statement 

robbysalz
robbysalz

@Chuck_Schick Oh, and don't forget Celina. Also, we can't leave Sanger out. OOOH think of the commuters from Gainesville and Sherman! We really need to start thinking of the economic loss of excluding Norman OK from DART.

Dude, just start shifting your focus to the Dallas core. If we can stop incentivizing/subsidizing suburban sprawl via highways and extended rail service, we can improve the Dallas area proper. Improved Dallas amenities=suburbanites moving to Dallas from the suburbs. Grow up, not out.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@Montemalone to be fair, much more than the parking is subsidized, the land, the rail, the cars, the operators and security.  They probably pay for the electricity and their liability.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@Scruffygeist HOV lanes are a ridiculous waste of resources. No improvement in traffic, usually the opposite.   Just add the lanes to the roads.

looptwelve
looptwelve

@ScottsMerkin Except for the people that live in DART municipalities and get free parking permits.

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

@drtz @MikeWestEast If that were even remotely true, the non-DART cities would not be ramping up sales tax revenue and Dallas would not be celebrating that "it did not get any worse.". The fact is most sales activity growth takes place outside the DART area and DART has scaled back its plans accordingly. I do not think that pattern is inherently wrong. It is what it is. At the same time when you come to visit, you have to understand our cupboard is barer.

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

@ScottsMerkin @MikeWestEast @ScottsMerkin @MikeWestEast Who said anything about not letting them on the train? They just need to be aware that 89 per cent of their rides are covered by people in the jurisdiction and do not be surprised if those people want to lower their subsidy by changing you for parking.

drtz
drtz

@Montemalone @Scruffygeist 
I use the HOV lane for my commute every day.  They sure seem like they help with traffic A LOT for me.  :D

OK joking aside, they only appear underutilized because traffic flows smoothly in them.  They actually carry a lot more passengers than a normal lane and reduce the amount of traffic and congestion in other lanes as well. Here's a quote from The City of Richardson's web page about HOV lanes:

"The HOV Lane system is estimated to provide at least a 15% decrease in the volume of traffic on US-75, providing more traffic capacity on the main lanes. As more vanpools and carpools are formed to utilize the HOV system, higher numbers of single-occupancy vehicles will be removed from the main lanes."

...So first thank those of us who carpool for making your trip shorter, and then quit whining and find somebody to carpool with.

(Actually that's an oversimplification since the increased capacity leads to more commuters blah blah blah I'll shut up now)

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@MikeWestEast you've made an empty and false claim.  The bulk of the city is under DART.  So, everything else you state is false.  There are NOT the shopping facilities to make your assertion true.  DART's grown rapidly, and there more in-fill to do.  NYC isn't done with it's mass transit, and that's over a century old. 

drtz
drtz

@scottindallas

The numbers mean nothing any time of day outside of the peak travel period because the entire highway's capacity becomes vastly underutilized.  When fewer people are traveling almost all of the lanes are waste.

You are correct though, that it's not moving more cars but more people.  The number that matters in transportation efficiency is the number of people moved, not the number of cars.

And none of Dallas' HOV lanes take anywhere close to two lanes except 35E south of town where the lane is reversible and needs barriers on both sides.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@drtz @scottindallas @Montemalone @Scruffygeist here's an assignment, how many cars could 2 lanes move versus one hov?  The HOV takes two lane and doesn't move nearly as many people, you don't measure speed but density.  The other lanes are moving far more people.  The times where the condition you're describing exists are for a couple of hours a day.   And you're confused, empty lanes moving 1/10 the traffic faster ISN'T moving as much as the congested lanes.  Even more, if there were 2 lanes, which HOV lanes take up enough for 2 regular lanes, we'd be far better off, all the time. 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@drtz @Montemalone @Scruffygeist wouldn't we expect that lane to carry 20%?  It's a fifth lane.  You're totally wrong about the lanes being more efficient, totally and flatly wrong.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@drtz @Montemalone @Scruffygeist  

An axiom of traffic engineering:

"Demand (or usage) on any roadway rises to the point where the delay becomes sufficient to cause drivers to seek an alternate route."

Also, the actual traffic volume on Central Expressway prior to its expansion in the 90's was already greater than the design capacity of the replacement (expanded) roadway.

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