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LA Metro Is Going To Start Charging For Parking At More Lots

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A sign at the Arcadia station informs riders that paid parking is coming soon. (Emily Elena Dugdale/LAist)
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Do you take the Gold Line? Do you park at the Arcadia and Duarte rail line? Starting next Monday you'll have to pay for that.

Why? Because demand for free parking next to Metro's train stations is so high it's causing problems.

Some of the lots are "100% full by 7:30 a.m.," said Metro's Director of Parking Management Frank Ching.

As a result, riders looking for parking clog up neighborhood side streets and "create an overspill situation," Ching said.

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He said that parking fees will hopefully prevent non-transit riders from parking in the lots. The parking system requires a TAP card verification when paying for parking to ensure that only Metro riders are parking.

Metro is set to convert 55 total locations to paid parking. Arcadia and Duarte will become the 19th and 20th Metro stations to collect a parking fee. Combined, the two stations have more than 400 spaces.

Metro operates 89 parking facilities at 56 transit stations throughout L.A. County. That's more than 25,000 parking spaces.

HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?

All of the paid parking stations have a flat rate of $3 -- except for two. Parking at El Monte Station and Atlantic Station costs just $2 per day.

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Ching says Metro looked at socioeconomic data and conducted surveys before selecting the neighborhoods switching to paid parking.

"Keep in mind, the people able to afford a car to go to the station and then take the transit, a $2-$3 rate should be manageable for them," he said.

'I DON'T REALLY LIKE IT'

On a recent weekday during rush hour at the Arcadia station, riders walked by a sign telling them that pretty soon parking won't be free anymore.

"I got used to the free parking," said Ed Armstrong, as he waited for a train. "That's one of the benefits of taking Metro."

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Angel Juicio was less worried about the change.

"If it's going to keep everything in order, why not," he said. "It's a small fee."

Rider Donna Newton said the new parking fee means she'll probably go to a nearby station, Sierra Madre Villa, where the parking is still free.

"I don't really like it, and most of the people that I've talked to who also ride don't like it either," she said.

Reactions like that don't surprise Metro's director of parking.

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"We have to look at the long term. We don't need to use more land to develop more parking," Ching said.

Transportation critics have said for years that Metro should stop offering free parking. In 2014, StreetsblogLA criticized Metro's base fare increase at a time when free parking was still offered.

Proponents of paid Metro parking say allowing people to park for free is bad for the environment because it encourages driving to the station instead of walking.

Free parking is also seen by some as a wasted opportunity for Metro to generate funds that could go back into other projects or programs.

Metro says the current fiscal year has brought in a little over $2 million in parking fee revenue. That goes into Metro's general fund.

As of now, the money is going to the cost of purchasing and maintaining equipment. Ching said eventually the funds will be used to subsidize other Metro programs.