Downtown parking relief

It was suggested in last week’s Austin Business Journal that Capital Metro “is in no position to provide relief” for parking problems in downtown Austin.  We kind of scratched our heads at that assertion and submitted the following letter to the editor in response.  The letter ran in this week’s edition:

The suggestion that Capital Metro “is in no position to provide relief” [“Downtown parking scrutinized,” Jul. 30 – Aug.5 edition] for downtown Austin parking is perplexing.  Transit is an extremely viable alternative to driving downtown and struggling to find an affordable parking space.  Capital Metro provides a thorough and comprehensive level of service in the heart of the city, with convenient access from all across our community.

The recent addition of MetroRail is a long-term investment that further enhances options to get Downtown without having to park.  Furthermore, Capital Metro is a supportive partner in the efforts to create a transportation management association to provide enhanced alternatives to ease the heavy congestion downtown.

Parking is never free in the big picture.  It consumes a huge amount of space, and the costs, if not borne by the user, are passed on to the community in the form of congestion, air pollution and many other problems.

The reality is Capital Metro is in excellent position to provide relief.

Elaine Timbes is executive vice president/interim chief operating officer of Capital Metro.

11 thoughts on “Downtown parking relief

  1. Paul K McGregor

    What ever happened to the comprehensive parking study that the city did back in 2000-2001? I participated in that study as a planner with Capital Metro. I recall that one of the alternatives being looked at was establishing remote parking areas and using shuttle buses.

    Yes, MetroRail is a long-term investment and hopefully as finances become more stable, the service levels could be expanded especially some midday and evening trips.

  2. I have worked at UT for over 6 years – ridden the bus or train to and from work and I have never needed a parking space at the campus. Of course Capital Metro provides excellent relief for parking.

  3. Really? You’re really puzzled by this?

    For people who drive today, MetroRail is completely useless – because it delivers passengers to either a shuttle-bus or to the end of downtown where parking problems don’t currently and will probably never exist. In neither case is the train going to get anybody out of their car, which is why your ridership numbers are so disappointing to begin with.

    1. Adam

      Yes, we were surprised at the suggestion that Capital Metro doesn’t provide relief for downtown parking. It’ll be a while before new census data is available. But based on the old numbers, there would need to be about 4,000 additional parking spaces in downtown Austin without Capital Metro. This much parking would require more than one million square feet of space.

      1. The suggestion was more that Capital Metro is incapable of providing additional relief for downtown parking – and the Red Line being used as a counterpoint shows you don’t understand why people don’t take the bus today.

        Essentially, the population of people who are willing to take a slow, stuck-in-traffic, bus to save a few bucks on parking has already been fully served with existing bus service. The train would be a great help IF AND ONLY IF it went anywhere worth going without requiring a transfer to another slow, stuck-in-traffic, bus.

  4. Don Dickson

    Hmm….thought I’d responded to this the other day but my comment hasn’t showed up.

    I don’t think your response to this nonsense was strong enough!

    It is a pretty simple thing to park for free, at any number of places around town where there IS free and available parking, and catch a bus for a 5-10 minute ride to any number of downtown destinations. You’d spend at least that much time driving around in expanding concentric circles looking for nonexistent parking.

    Methinks the ABJ author, like so many other people in Austin, “just doesn’t want to.”

    Or just never has even tried. I’ve been riding CM buses for 15 years, almost every day, and in all that time the only public official I have EVER seen on a CM bus is County Court at Law Judge David Phillips. The rest of ’em are all in their Lexuses and SUVs. Makes me nuts.

    1. Don, that betrays a lack of familiarity with the conditions the choice commuter actually faces – the only times you need to circle that long are during busy but free parking times (certain nights and weekends). I’ve never had to circle anywhere near that long to park on the street and pay – and the last time I took the bus to avoid what I thought would be a very difficult parking environment (jury duty), I passed half a dozen empty spaces on my way back to the bus stop on the way out (within a block or two).

  5. Don Dickson

    Well, there’s almost NEVER any free parking available along Congress Avenue or South Congress Avenue….anytime….and plenty of places where you can park free’n’easy within a 5-10 minute jump on the 1L/1M.

    And that’s just one scenario. There are countless others.

  6. South Congress doesn’t charge for parking – and they should. Congress isn’t where the action is at, or so Capital Metro would have us believe – they’re moving most of the local buses off this corridor in the 2020 plan after all.

  7. Nicole

    Keep in mind I have done 0 research on this – just looked around the Cap Metro website and read these comments.

    That said, it seems that if Capital Metro just expanded the line 2-3 more stations South (perhaps just South of 290), and extended the trips to run from early morning through midnight, a LOT more people would hop on the bandwagon, so to speak.

    One of the main points of this system is for people to no longer have to guess what time they’re gonna get home depending on traffic, and to be less stressed. But CapMetro limits how late the trains run to around 6:30pm (or else you miss your train: stress), and only runs from far FAR North (Isn’t this supposed to help “Austin” residents, not Leander/Cedar Park ones?) to Downtown, forcing most to hop on a bus, and then another bus, etc. to get where they actually need to be – and in this heat, walking/riding a bike for more than 30 minutes in your work attire is not plausible.

    From my experience, the people who could benefit from saving gas, not using a car, and having the possibility of bringing their bike with them all live South of downtown, not North (or at least equally as much)..

    So, I suggest more stations further South, and a schedule that’s more conducive to people’s actual lives. And $60 for a monthly pass would be ideal..

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