The Dirty Truth Behind Park & Rides (Matt Steele, StreetsMM, Mar. 18, 2014)
Today we review some suggestions from Minneapolis where the proposal to expand their park and ride facilities is assessed in terms of what it costs to give the parking away free (when it costs $10 per user) compared to other more cost effective options, such as doing away with higher express fares at peak use times or producing more revenue from the lot areas than giving away parking. Bottom line is that the number of extra riders and revenue produced by free parking is less than improvements to the transit system itself which would make the latter more efficient and double the net revenue. A good question whether this arguments holds for cities such as Ottawa that are sprawled out over more than 2,800 km2 where some suburban and rural areas are poorly or expensively served by public transit. But it is always useful to consider impacts on ridership and the costs of subsidies in running very expensive public transit systems.
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