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.

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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