Despite popularity, park and ride lots still in short supply

Despite popularity, park and ride lots still in short supply »Play Video
It's major projects, like the viaduct replacement project, that push more and more people to public transportation. But in some areas, people hit a park and ride and panic when they find lots pushed to their limits and beyond.

A new park and ride in Burien that just opened on Saturday is already more than two-thirds full each day this week.   It cost more than $20 million to build and right now there’s just not that kind of money available to build new park and ride lots.

"Oh, that's a shame, because I can see West Seattle needing one like this," said commuter Carollee Crabill.

It probably could, with the Alaskan Way Viaduct shutting down for nine days days this fall.

Metro says they don't have an new park and rides on the drawing board right now. Neither does Sound Transit, but it is studying future possibilities.

There are more than 25,000 spaces at area park and ride lots, and on average, 80 percent of all permanent spaces get used daily. But some of these lots run well beyond capacity, which leads people to park illegally.

"Well that's called park and hide," said Linda Thielke with Metro Transit. "And we really don't encourage it and neither do the cities."

The South Kirkland lot is one example.

"Occasionally I have to drive all the way into Seattle," said commuter Bari Dorward, "which is not my preference, because there aren't any parking spots."

She found a spot today, but she may not be so lucky once tolling starts on 520 and more people park their cars to save money.

This is when Thielke said you need to get creative.

"Sometimes people get stuck in a habit," she said. "It's a very convenient habit and they'll go to a park and ride that they think is the only option for them, but there might be other options."

Check to see if there are other parking lots along your route. For example, some of the buses that stop at South Kirkland also stop at the Houghton Park and Ride - just 2.5 miles north. There, hundreds of spaces sit empty every day.

And some lots are not so obvious - for example there is a church lot where Metro leases spaces for you to park.

Metro spends about $200,000 a year leasing space in private lots, located near bus stops. It reviews its ridership and lot usage quarterly and makes adjustments where necessary.