Charge to Park, Not Ride

An increase in parking fees, rather than ferry fare, would be better for riders and the Bridge District.

This April, Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District officials will debate whether to hike the cost of ferry rides for Clipper Card holders, which would raise $2 million to help close an $87 million deficit caused in part by costs associated with the Doyle Drive reconstruction. As long as the parking lot is free, this is the wrong move for the District. Charging for parking would discourage driving to the ferry terminal and encourage people to bus or carpool, freeing some of the parking lot for mid-day ferry drivers, putting more people on buses and bikes, and perhaps even boosting, rather than suppressing, ferry ridership.

Marin Transit or GGT should ensure there is a convenient bus transfer in Larkspur, however. The 15 minute, freeway-bound walk from the nearest bus pad is sometimes called the Walk of Shame, and the 29 bus from either Ross Valley or the Transit Center is about as fast as molasses on a cold day. Sausalito, also in the plan, doesn’t fare much better with the bus route but at least its connections aren’t equated with shame and embarrassment.

Transit-oriented redevelopment

Long-term, the GGBHTD should partner with the City of Larkspur to redevelop its Larkspur Landing parking lot as a transit-oriented village. As it stands, it’s about as far from Market Street, time-wise, as San Francisco’s Inner Sunset neighborhood, and with the coming reconstruction of the Greenbrae Interchange and SMART station it stands to become the most transit-rich point in the county outside downtown San Rafael.

My very rough calculation, based on the findings of county-wide land values in the Tiburon Housing Element, places the parking lot’s market value at between $48 million and $55 million, assuming 45-unit-per-acre housing (roughly three or four story buildings). If the land were leased from GGBHTD, it would add around $1 million to $2 million per year of direct income, and around $1.3 million in new fare revenue, assuming transit is the primary mode of transportation for the residents. In all, it would equate to around 8 percent of the ferry’s cost.

For Larkspur, it would provide a boon in sales tax revenue from tourists and residents alike, not to mention a property tax windfall. Indeed, if density limits are replaced with height limits the units would likely be studios or one bedrooms - too small for families to put a strain on the school system, and so would boost revenues for the district without adding many extra students.

But for the moment…

For the moment, parking lot development is long-term conceptual thinking to put the ferry system on stronger financial footing. This debate is just about whether to raise the fares of ferry riders, and the answer should be a firm no. Raising the price of parking would have a number of positive knock-on effects to commuting and parking patterns at both Sausalito and Larkspur by improving parking availability for mid-day riders, encouraging carpooling, biking and busing and making more efficient use of the infrastructure we have.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Sierra Salin April 05, 2012 at 04:23 PM
I say turn it back into a living bay marshlands. All of your valuations of the land are based on humans rape and plunder of he commons of nature, "owning," "improving," and obliterating the natural systems which sustain all life. Contrary to modern beliefs, the earth really does not belong to us, and we are terrible caretakers and stewards. We need to do better if we expect to leave anything worthwhile for our or anything's children, eh? Conservation is a much better everything, than consumption. Get out of your cars folks. Live a little, and leave something besides landfills and parking lots for the future. Too much trouble? Oops. Drive on Buy.
Life in the Bubble April 06, 2012 at 05:56 AM
Sierra, I love your utopian idealism. That said, we also need to live in reality, and putting a few thousand more cars on the highway every day would have a vastly higher environmental impact than a parking lot. Unless you are subsistence living (obviously not in Marin), all human activity has an impact. Both of us are commenting to the Patch in the comfort of our homes, using electricity, burning coal, natural gas, petroleum, and nuclear fuel. The houses we live in testaments to deforestation. It's hard to take the moral high ground when you are drawing power off a grid powered by fossil fuels inside a building constructed of destroyed forests, typing away on a computer made in China under inhumane working conditions. (My apologies if you live in a tent running a hand cranked generator, and are a whiz at soldering your own circuit boards). My point? Lighten up (please). The article was about brainstorming ways to close a funding gap, not "rape and plunder."
David Edmondson April 06, 2012 at 06:31 AM
I had considered whether the lot should just go back to marsh, but the benefits to places that still haven't been developed/plundered that would stem from redeveloping here convinced me that a bayside/ferry village would be a better choice. We do need to be better caretakers, and that means remembering how to build our settlements as humans have done for millenia. A park and ride lot is anathema to such an effort, as is sprawl out into the Delta.
Sierra Salin April 06, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Understood, and agreed, and.... What good is "living in reality" if all it is creating or leaving behind is a wasteland of roadways and landfills? Lets not put a bunch more cars on the roads. How do we change folks beliefs, and attitudes, or educate our ignorances and blind spots? We have serious changes to make, which no amount of feel good/greenwashing is going to mitigate. It is near impossible to have anything to do with modern society, without being a consumer, and most of us seem to consume away, with little awareness or thought to the real impacts of our consuming lifestyle upon the environments which sustain us all, and all the other life which we reduce to $ values, for our own ends. Nature is "worth" more, intact, than most anything we can turn it into, and we need to work with, and within nature. The modern whirled is all about money.
Sierra Salin April 06, 2012 at 03:02 PM
There just are not the resources for us all to command 3000 pounds of cars, etc, for every person, and we need to change the boxes we think, live, and indiscriminately consume from. Too much of the most fertile lands are underneath roadways, and parking lots, and most of us think only in terms of economic costs, when in "reality," nature is going to do and react how it does, regardless of our flawed rules, laws, and beliefs. We need to work within the wholeness of nature, and stop trying to mold it into lifeless forms. Lighten up? On the one hand, everything is perfect as it is, and on the other, I want to change this whirled, while we have the chance. Lighten up? Endless Wars, Fracking, G.M.O's, More Nukes, etc, are all the results of folks "living" in "reality" I say, lets change our reality, and leave something for the future worth leaving. Yes, WE can, but only if we choose to change, beginning with consuming less, driving less, flying less, etc, and hopefully, LOVING more, and not just our own little groups.
Kevin Moore April 06, 2012 at 03:34 PM
I have ridden the ferry to SF many times. As I recall, judging people by how they are dressed, there are a lot of people going to six figure salary jobs. They are not going to ride a bicycle to the terminal any time soon. Didn't the GGT recently talk about "reserved parking" as a way to raise funds? Charging for parking will create a financial burden for those traveling on the ferry who don't get paid as much. Publishing a good ride sharing software program that allows people to more easily find car pool partners is the best solution for now.
Kevin Moore April 06, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Question: Is the shortfall for Doyle Drive due to design or revenue being less than projected? One problem we have is a government that spends money like it grows on trees. There is a proposed bicycle / pedestrian bridge across Sir Francis Drake, a quarter mile east of the existing pedestrian bridge. Four designs were shown, but the cost of each design was not disclosed. Which design looks best? Cost would be a major factor in my decision making. Safety being next, since tall trucks occasionally hit low bridges. Then there is the question if the bridge is really needed. SMART riders are going to use the existing bridge. Crossing SFD in the crosswalk isn't that hard. The bike route from SFD to CM does need improvement.
Jory Prum April 06, 2012 at 04:17 PM
As you mentioned, the problem is lack of busses feeding the ferry. If GGT wishes to charge for parking, they must make it possible to get to/from the ferry without a car. As it stands today, the last ferry arrives in Larkspur at 10:05pm, but the last 29 bus passed by at 8:30pm. If you walk to the Lucky Drive bus pad, you still miss the last 23 bus, which leaves for Fairfax at 10:15pm. And heaven help you on a Saturday or Sunday! Charging for parking only works as an incentive to use other methods. If using a bus to get to/from the ferry is easy and effective, folks will use that instead of driving, especially if they would get saddled with an extra parking fee for NOT using busses. But when no other busses exist, all that parking fees will accomplish is to persuade ferry users to go back to driving to the City.
David Edmondson April 06, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Agreed. Priced parking should be contingent on some sort of improvement or, barring that, might be contingent on when the car leaves the lot - if it's after the last bus leaves, it's free. The Greenbrae Interchange Project will add a whackload of bus stops at SFD under the freeway for use by the freeway-bound buses, giving a good connection between those, the ferry, and SMART. As well, there's rumor that the 29 is in line for some service improvements or rerouting through the Canal, so that will improve the situation for the interim.
John Ferguson April 08, 2012 at 05:21 AM
+1 for people riding their bicycle to six figure jobs in San Francisco. I'm not sure what your conception of a bicycle commuter in Marin is, but in my experience it's overwhelmingly professional and male. One problem is the ferry has not planned for any more than nominal bicycle use as a part of multi-modal commuting. If even 50% more people rode their bikes to the ferry than do now they would have to start turning cyclists away, or at least prevent them from bringing their bikes on the ferry. I suppose more people could lock their bikes up inside the ferry waiting area.
David Edmondson April 08, 2012 at 05:31 AM
John - Totally in agreement. The BAAQMD/San Francisco bikeshare system is supposed to address that exact problem. Something the ferry building could do would be to create a Warm Planet-type bike storage space so the hardcore cyclists could have a bike at both ends of the ferry, eliminating the need to carry one on board, except for that first time.
Marie Hoch April 08, 2012 at 04:52 PM
GGT should charge for parking immediately. There is no need to provide alternatives right away because all those parking spaces will still be available. They just won't be free. What's the problem with that? People will pay either way through higher fares or a new parking charge. Keep the fares down for the behavior you want to encourage which is riding the ferry. Some of the people who find a way to carpool, walk, etc. (to save $$) will free up spaces for more people to take the ferry who are willing to pay to park. This will drive increased ferry use. The number of parking spaces right in front of the terminal is a limited resource. It should be priced as such. If it were me, I would charge more the the desirable spaces right close to the terminal and less for the spaces at the back, just like at an airport.
Sierra Salin April 08, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Uh huh, so now everybody needs to have 2 or 3 bikes....... Sorry, but what a stupid system. Make more room for bikes on the ferry. Bike storage and long term parking is great, and make/keep it easy and simple, for everybody.
Brant April 08, 2012 at 06:23 PM
I'm sure there must be an efficient, inexpensive way to collect parking fees, but whatever it is is not clear to me. Even a monthly window sticker requires an enforcement officer to ensure compliance. I doubt pay-for-parking can be economically implemented. Marin has been hostile to bus commuters for years. Except for highway lots (long walk either morning or evening - bad in rain), parking near bus stops has been extensively restricted to a few hours to serve the interests of merchants or local residents. If it is not convenient, the people don't use it.
David Edmondson April 09, 2012 at 12:18 AM
Washington, DC's park-and-ride lots only take funds via the SmarTrip card, which is the local equivalent of the Clipper Card. Swipe your card and go. For Marinites who have been rather averse to the whole Clipper Card thing, you would take a ticket at the start of the day when you enter the lot. You have to pay for your ticket at the terminal using cash, card, or Clipper.
David Edmondson April 09, 2012 at 12:22 AM
One could charge extra for bikes until they get to be manageable, I suppose, but it would be good to give people the option of bike storage on both sides of the ferry - at the very least, San Franciscans working in Marin would take advantage of the Ferry Building storage.
Kevin Moore April 09, 2012 at 10:35 PM
John - As I recall, on the ferry I would see a lot more suits and dresses, ie attire generally not suitable for bike riding, than bikes on the ferry. How far do you ride from your house to the ferry? Do you wear a suit while riding to work? My point was it may not be practical for many people to switch to bicycles to get to the ferry.
David Edmondson April 10, 2012 at 01:45 AM
@Kevin I can't speak to John's sartorial habits, but I typically wear a suit when I bike to work, as long as the weather can support it. That means jacket, tie, and sometimes a sweater. It's not as high-impact as one might imagine, especially once you get used to it.
Kevin Moore April 10, 2012 at 02:59 AM
@ David, everyone's situation is different. Riding from Larkspur or Corte Madera to the ferry is a breeze. From Novato, not so easy. I just see any increase in fares or parking as a burden for those who commute. Some wouldn't think twice about paying more. Some are sinking in the rising costs, taxes, property taxes, rising gasoline costs. One thing we always can count on from our government, overspending. $87 million in the hole for Doyle Drive in this case.
Jory Prum April 15, 2012 at 03:13 AM
Relevant to this discussion and my earlier comment about not being able to reach the ferry via transit, I just asked 511.org to tell me how to get from Fairfax to the Larkspur Ferry tomorrow (Sunday) I need to take the 4:30pm ferry into the City, where a friend will meet me. Amusingly, the directions 511 provided were as follows: 1) Take the GGT 23 bus from Fairfax at 10:20am to the San Anselmo hub. 2) Transfer to the GGT 22 bus to the San Rafael Transit Center. 3) Transfer to the GGT 70 bus and exit at the SW corner of Mission & Second in San Francisco 4) Take Muni 14 to Market & Steuart St 5) Walk to the Golden Gate Ferry Terminal 6) Take the Golden Gate Ferry to Larkspur, arriving at 1:30pm. And people wonder why no one takes transit.
David Edmondson April 15, 2012 at 04:41 AM
Don't judge a system by the terrible algorithms in 511.org. Hopefully this will get approved before you need to get there. The fastest (and easiest, and cheapest) way to the City is by bus, not ferry; choose the final destination, not just the ferry terminal. If you REALLY want to take the ferry into the city, take the 3:19 23 out of Fairfax (depends on your exact location, but that's when it leaves the Parkade), transfer to the 29 at the Hub. Arrives at 4:02 at Larkspur Landing Circle.
Jory Prum April 15, 2012 at 05:02 AM
First off, there is no 29 on a Sunday. The closest solution is to take the 23 to the 22 to the 70. And then do the 15-minute Walk of Shame from Lucky Drive to Larkspur Ferry Terminal. However, this is the year 2012, a time when mobile solutions for transit abound in every part of the world EXCEPT Marin County. Heck, we can't even rely on non-mobile computing solutions! The fact that 511.org and its truly abysmal "solution" are the best way to navigate an extremely complicated transit system is *absolutely* something to judge the usability of our transit by. There is simply no excuse.
Jory Prum April 15, 2012 at 05:03 AM
It took 3.5 years of my attending nearly every monthly MCTD meeting to get period passes implemented. (And they were already part of MCTD's short range plan, but umimplemented for many years!) Every month I was told by MCTD's board members to buy a Translink (now Clipper) pass. The board was unable to distinguish between a pay-per-ride fare system and an all-you-can-eat fare system. So why should they have heeded my repeated suggestions from 2008 to 2010 that they also submit their data to Google Transit or put together mobile apps for smartphones? When I attended a public workshop regarding transportation in Marin a year or so ago I was told repeatedly by other attendees that my insistence that we needed better transit data reporting was a low priority, as not everyone has a smartphone. (As if better online route suggestions, bus shelter status updates, "next stop" displays aboard busses, and other information that makes using transit easier are unimportant!) Do you really believe that it's completely acceptable for people who want to use transit to study the tome that is the service route schedules and maps and piece together the complexity that constitutes a simple trip from Fairfax, down Sir Francis Drake to Larkspur Landing on a Sunday? Is it remotely acceptable that riders have no idea what the next stops are without having to listen intently for the muffled announcements of drivers? Again, is it any wonder people in Marin County don't use transit?
Jory Prum April 15, 2012 at 05:12 AM
Oh, I forgot to add that I do have a Clipper card. I boarded the MCTD 259 shuttle at the Civic Center a week ago and discovered there is no Clipper card reader on the shuttle. Way to make transit easy!
David Edmondson April 15, 2012 at 05:18 AM
Crap all, I got my days mixed up; thought tomorrow was a Saturday. You're right, and it's abysmal that there's no proper bus service to the ferry. You may want to download the new 511.org app, though; very handy, even if it's handy to navigate a sparse system. Though I do know from people inside GGT and Marin Transit that Google Maps functionality is on its way by the end of this year (the irregular school bus schedules are why it didn't show up last year), and that there is consideration for a NextBus system (no excuse why it's not already rolled out), you're absolutely right: GGT is terrible to use. I don't know why the shuttles don't have Clipper readers. I've written a whole series on the subject here, though some of the posts seem to have gone missing from Patch. Luckily I have my own blog: On unsucking the system in general: http://thegreatermarin.wordpress.com/2011/12/19/unsuck-golden-gate-transit/ On wayfinding: http://sanrafael.patch.com/blog_posts/maximizing-golden-gate-transit-wayfinding-from-a-to-b On doing better with headways: http://thegreatermarin.wordpress.com/2011/11/09/maximizing-golden-gate-transit-headways-schmeadways/ On open data: http://thegreatermarin.wordpress.com/2011/11/21/open-data/ GGT/MT could do so, so much more but it feels like they just don't care. It's frustrating in the extreme.
R Darcy April 15, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Your cause may be really important but you need to start a new thread. this is an interesting discussion about a well-written article titled "Charge to Park, not Ride." Hijacking, or attempting to grab the focus away from the original poster's issue is a form of spamming and it trivializes your cause.
Sierra Salin April 16, 2012 at 02:46 AM
My comments were removed by the p.c. police for spelling Fucushima with an extra k, which I have done out of habit for over a year now. Sorry if my speeling offended anyone, and the spelling does not change one bit, the issues, or the sentiments. ferry, bus, parking lot, marsh, gas, solar, whatever. We are living so far out of balance with the natural systems, and failing to take care of our global messes like Fucushima, however you want to spell it, that it may not really matter. Our inability to act or change, is a form of choice. We Have entered the Twilight Zone. Enjoy.
John Ferguson April 25, 2012 at 07:27 PM
@Kevin, I don't work in insurance or sales or banking so no suits necessary for my job. I keep work clothes at work and ride in what's comfortable, as do most of my fellow bike commuters. As @David indicates, you can ride in a suit if you want to, I just don't think that would be most people's preference.
David Edmondson May 08, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Off-topic: I'm throwing a happy hour at San Rafael Joe's this Thursday at 6pm. Come by, mingle, drink good drinks. It'll be good times. Walking distance from the transit center and downtown's only bike rack, though if you must drive there are 945 spaces to choose from on Third. and hundreds more on Fourth and Fifth. Oh, and GGT - it's now on Google Maps, so you can do that, too.


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