Council to Experiment with Park-and-Ride

The whole of Council wants to create a park-and-ride for downtown, Rachana Dixit writes in today’s Daily Progress. The great majority of downtown time-limited parking is in use by commuters, who shuffle their cars around every couple of hours, now that all-day free parking has been largely eliminated from downtown. Council wants to experiment with a commuter-timed bus line that runs from a spacious, free parking lot on the edge of town to downtown, and see if folks prefer that to dealing with the two-hour shuffle.

37 thoughts on “Council to Experiment with Park-and-Ride”

  1. “My concern is that we’ve taken a step to deal with the two-hour shuffle,” Norris said, “and yet we’ve done nothing to address in a proactive way of where these people are going to park.”

    I think that basically sums up the problem for me. Any “solution” has got to deal with that issue first. As someone who practices the “two hour shuffle” (in another part of town), I have some perspective on the issue. For me it has two parts, the legal parking that is available to me is already well within city limits, so driving to it and waitng for a bus just adds another hour to my day for no good reason. Secondly, it’s nice to have the car to go run errands at lunch. Lastly, I’m also on-call for a critical system, so when something goes down I can’t very well wait 30 minutes for a bus.

    So, a park and ride could help some, but the devil is in the details. Someone should take a list of the parking tickets that have been issued the last three months to local residents and send them a survey asking things like “are you a commuter?” and “Do you need you car at work, and why?” A commuter lot along with one of those services that allows you to borrow a car for an hour or two might be the best situation. Might also be good to have designated prime spots for people in the carpooling program (UVa has started doing this).

  2. Two thoughts:
    One for Lonnie who said that a bus would only add an hour to his day. Just wondering, how much time do you spend each of the three or four times that you leave your office to move your car? Does that total an hour? Probably. If so, there is not going to be a change in your time. (This does not address your “need for a car” during the day, I admit. But not all people are in this position. Many do the shuffle to avoid paying the high fees for the monthly options.
    My second thought addresses the Shuffle directly. Instead of having 2 hr. spots, how about 3 hour Zones. You can’t park anywhere within the “Zone” for more than 3 hours per day. Any person who simply moves to a different spot would still be ticketed.
    People may find that it is easier and cheaper to pay for a monthly spot or carpool.

  3. I notice the haven’t done anything about the free all-day on-street parking downtown that many city employees use. Guess that will remain their little secret.

  4. Keith, if I actually, moved my car every two hours you’d be correct; however most of us generally “overstay” and risk a ticket. The police are complicit in this, and basically know we’re doing it, but we pay our tickets so everyone is happy. So, generally I’m moving my car 2-3 times a day, and generally when I’m doing something else anyway like going to get lunch. So, over all, i lose barely any time at all over a day (plus I get to go outside and see sunlight).

    As for the parking zone idea, it’s already true. Technically you can’t park on the same block for more than two hours in a day. It reality though it’s hard to enforce, but I have probably gotten one ticket for that before. Besides, it still doesn’t solve the problem that Dave Norris pointed out in the first place, which is meeting the need that the two hour spaces serve for so many people. Take those away, and I’ll just park in the neighborhoods, and walk.

  5. Lonnie is correct about the parking zones. If you read the signs carefully, they say the limit is for the block. If you roll your car forward one space, you are still overstaying. I never realized that until I talked to the guy that programmed the police system to track this.

    The police use handhelds to enforce them, the modern day version of “chalking the tires.” Each block is numbered in their system, they can put in the block # and the license plate and see if you were there the last time they checked. It’s all quite tedious, but it does work. The individual spaces are not numbered in their database, so they don’t track which space your car is in. Just the block.

    Seems to me that some people need their cars at work and will still drive all the way, others could do the park and ride. The question is, how do you determine how many will do the latter other than setting it up, promoting it, and then checking the results? You won’t get all commuters out of the timed spaces on the streets, but it you get half of them out, is that a success?

  6. Seems to me that some people need their cars at work and will still drive all the way, others could do the park and ride. The question is, how do you determine how many will do the latter other than setting it up, promoting it, and then checking the results? You won’t get all commuters out of the timed spaces on the streets, but it you get half of them out, is that a success?

    I think that’s why we need to take some staff time to actually ask the commuters, or do some kind of study, before necessarily concluding that one solution will work better than another. You then have to analyze whether the cost of implementing any solution really saves more money, or solves a real problem. I’d hazard a guess that if folks like myself stopped shuffling and overstaying tomorrow that the police force would find itself dramatically underfunded. There was even an grandmother who was arrested once for dropping quarters in other people’s meters, and the justification was that she was costing her city revenue.

  7. When I used to work downtown, I did the two-hour shuffle for five years. And let me tell ya, it was a royal pain. Through all kinds of weather, too. But don’t worry, the Market Street deck got plenty of my money, too. Whenever it was really bad weather, or I was too pooped to park on the street. Glad those days are over. Almost bought a motorcyle so I could park for free in the deck, but figured in the long run the parking fee was cheaper than a big hospital bill and prolonged rehab.

  8. I can’t believe you mass transit freaks still use or own a car. Practice what you preach…sell your car…take the bus..walk…run ….etc.etc. but do not clog up the downtown streets with your cars…

  9. The so called “on-street free parking” was created when the city decided not to replace the on-street parking meters.

  10. I’m stunned that so many people would do the 2 hour shuffle and risk tickets rather than park over in Belmont for free. It’s at most a 5-10 minute walk!

  11. “I’m not a “mass transit freak”. My carbon footprint is sasquatch size.”

    I actually leave my car idling all day. Then after I get home at night I pour a can of motor oil out in my backyard.

  12. Part of the problem is obviously, “how long do I need to wait to get transportation back to my car?” Light rail is the way to go. Buses will be obsolete in 20 years, so we might as well build the rail lines now.

  13. LTR that’s exactly what we need. Cheap to build…Not…minimum amount of maintenance…Not….Rather than continuing on with mass transit and LTR systems hysteria we need to build more roads where the many will benefit. People are not buying into mass transit…the automobile rules.

  14. We’ve got buses running around town completing routes once every hour and that is not often enough. Mass transit is an inconvenience and designed for the very few who have nothing to do and lots of time to do nothing. Most people do not take a leisurely walk every day for exercise. I can imagine how many people want to walk to the corner to catch a bus, day in and day out, in all kinds of weather. Mass transit is a total waste of taxpayer money.

  15. I think there are solutions that would take me out of the overstay and shuffle routine (in fact, I’m already registered in “Cavpool”, and just waiting to find someone to carpool with…)

    I think most people would agree that it is a royal pain to actually rotate the car, and most of us would gladly give it up. Each of us probably have our own reasons for doing it though, some maybe money, others time, or perhaps the requirements of our jobs. To solve the problem, we really need to figure out which problem we’re solving (and whether the cure is worse than the disease).

  16. It’s easy for city council to come up with all these cures, but I wonder how many of them would use a “park and ride” shuttle to and from City Hall, or anywhere else downtown for that matter? And if city hall employees alone were to use a new “park and ride” shuttle, that would clear up a lot of parking downtown. Parking downtown wouldn’t be the mess it is now if the city had kept Lane High School and converted it to City Hall many years ago. Selling Lane High School to Albemarle County has to be in the Top 10 list of the dumbest things the city has ever done.

  17. Yeah, once an hour is not nearly often enough for the bus. Hell, the CUE bus in Fairfax (21k population) serves mainly George Mason University (much smaller than UVa), runs routes around Fairfax, and IIRC, there’s a stop every 15 minutes — not every hour.

    Charlottesville is too small for any other real mass transit solutions though — it’s not worth the cost to build a light rail. Buses should be sufficent, but they aren’t running often enough, probably because of lack of ridership — a chicken/egg problem.

    I really don’t even know what kind of demand there is for bus service now with the cost of gas half of what it was, and IMHO, there is no parking problem Downtown .. there is plenty of parking over on Garrett, Belmont, and the adjacent streets. Yes, it’s a 5 minute walk, but you don’t risk a ticket and you don’t have to move your car every 2 hours.

    The people who daily park in the Water/Market Street garage and pay those exorbitant rates are even worse.. $16 for daily parking at Market ($12 at Water?) when you can walk a few blocks and get it for free.

  18. In today’s economy with all the layoffs and high unemployment, I say let’s bring the rickshaw to C’ville. That’s totally green!

  19. Okay, here’s a relevant story… Today, I was “overstaying” and after being in spot a significant amount of time, I went to move my car. I see this police officer already there taking down the numbers of the vehicles. I gesture to her that I’m moving. As I get in the car to drive away, she says “you don’t have to move, I haven’t put you in the system yet, so you still have two hours”.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful, but it kind of shows how all the police know exactly what’s going on and as long as we continue to periodically send in our “irregular parking fees” then they are also prepared to turn a blind eye every once in a while. After all, if they’re too tough on us then we’ll find other parking arrangements and they’ll lose their source of income.

  20. Mark my words, people. Within 20 years we’ll see street cars (trams) transporting people about our city and we’ll be looking for green space for planting food. We’ll be digging up all the new roads and a lot of the old ones, too.

  21. Lonnie,
    Your story is hysterical. I find something kinda pathetic that a cop would tell you to break the law, but hey… at least she saved you the trouble of having to remedy it… That’s a riot.

    You’ll have to let me know when she is working again.

  22. Keith, pathetic is when a cop takes a murder weapon from a murderer and buries it in his yard. And then covers for the murderer. Not to mention the same cop then arrested and attempted to prosecute a totally innocent man while actually knowing the real killer. Like in the current Staunton case in the news. That’s the classic definiton for pathetic. His picture should added to every dictionary this year beside the word pathetic.

    I think what the girl did for Lonnie falls in the humorous category. :)

  23. For years now, city stafferes have been able to ride the buses for free but few use them. Someone asked Gary O’Connell several years ago how many employees used the privilige and he said about three. The city had started paying 50% of its workers’ parking fees if they park in the Water Street parking garage several years ago. I wonder if that benefit will cease if they establish apark-and-ride lot. CHS would be a good place to put one.
    Don’t forget the free parking on Monticello AV.

  24. How would CHS be a good spot? The lower Administration Building lot stays full all the time. The student and staff lots don’t really have that many empty spots during the day. Bring in 100 to 150 more cars per day and it would be a disaster area. Not to mention the safety of the students with the “park and ride” traffic rushing in and out every morning and afternoon when drivers are running a few minutes late, drinking their coffee while driving, putting on makeup and talking on cell phones. Combined with the fact that the students are the worst pedestrians you’ll ever want to meet. They have no regard for moving motor vehicles whatsoever.
    I learned the other day from a nurse that the UVA hospital runs “park and ride” shuttles for their employees to and from Scott Stadium. Seems to work rather well.

  25. Driving to school should be restricted to seniors and those students who have jobs after school. That would free up a lot of spaces in the student parking lot. They should enter and exit the parking lot on the westward entrance. Commuters would enter and exit the lot from Melbourne.

  26. I doubt the residents on Melbourne or Grove want all this extra traffic and shuttle buses. I don’t think it would ever fly. What’s wrong with using McIntire Park?

  27. They live on public roads. The high school parking lot was included before on a list of potential park-and-ride and I don’t recall any neighborhood opposition. I suspect they would rather have fewer cars coming and going during lunch with loud students than with some commuters in the morning and evening.
    Those using the Parkway would possibly find this location very convenient if there are bus and bike connections.

  28. “Park and ride” is a concept that’s supposed to apply to suburban commuters who live 15-20 miles from their workplace; not commuters who live a 15-20 minute walk from their workplace. Setting up a park-and-ride downtown is a dumb idea, because downtown is where the most public transportation is. Anywhere you park down here is already a short walk to either a bus stop or the transit station itself.

    The transit system here is used by many. This has already been evidenced and referred to on this very website. The only reason it’s not used more is because it’s not dependable enough. But this is a solvable problem. If you want people to take CTS to work, then goshdangit that bus has got to arrive ON TIME at the stop on my corner every single day like clockwork. Why doesn’t this happen, is what I’d like to hear an answer to from a CTS official. What the foucalt, man? Chicago busses run on time, why can’t this little town’s? Dependability dependability dependability. My car is dependable. My car is always going to be on time. Because it doesn’t go anywhere without me, but…yeah. But a good bus system is more dependable than a car because even if a bus breaks down, another one is there right away to replace it.

    Make CTS busses dependable. I mean, my kid’s bus arrives at the same fignewtoning time every day, why can’t the #10?

    The Scott Stadium shuttles? Great work! That sonufabiscuit runs every ten minutes. THAT’S how a bus should run. Why can’t CTS be run like UTS? UTS is so much more dependable than CTS. The whole system is designed better. It’s like, when UTS leadership has meetings, they think “how can we serve students and employees better?” But at CTS, it’s like they ask “When’s this meeting going to be over”? Has no one in the leadership of CTS ever worked in the transit systems of bigger cities?

  29. If what you say about the shuttles is true, I might give them a try again. In the past, I found that whenever there was some kind of student holiday, or if you stayed after a certain hour than suddenly they started running either not at all, or once an hour. Plus every time there was a sporting event you get bumped out of your parking spots. I did it for years anyway, but at some point I just got tired of it, especially when managers, doctors and nurses regardless of whether they do patient care, seem to automatically get parking at work from day 1.

    I also think Scott Stadium is a poor location for me as a commuter. By the time I make it there, I’m basically at work already so then its a choice of parking and waiting for a shuttle (which doesn’t stop near my office) or I could just park by my office in a two hour spot. Now a shuttle from Fontaine, that would be useful. To be effective and provide any real benefit, parking for commuters should be on the edge of the city, not in the middle.

    Regarding park street and traffic from the north, put a big commuter lot up near the start of Park Street, then put up a gate right in the middle of park street that only opens during the day for emergency vehicles and mass transit. Suddenly, park street can be a neighborhood again, and cars would be reduced in the city dramatically. Plus commuters would have a really fast way to get to work (since Park would be mass transit only). Heck, it’s called “Park” street, so seems like a fitting place for a park-and-ride…

    You’d also completely eliminate the need for the Meadowcreek/Warner parkway.

  30. You’ll never see Park Street closed as a main artery into the city. Just won’t happen.

  31. Hey Waldo,
    I submitted a second post last night, but it has not appeared. It was a good one…is it lost?

  32. Lonnie, there are shuttles (minivans) from Fontaine. I’ve used them when going to/from appointments.

    True, they seem to run somewhat erratically and aren’t easy for the casual user to keep track of, but employee support and voices could certainly help change that. I don’t know if they have a direct route from Fontaine to campus/hospital. The one I end up on always goes to Northridge first, which would make it an unreasonably lengthy trip for your average commuter. Heck, I’ve been known to walk the long way home, instead.

  33. I submitted a second post last night, but it has not appeared. It was a good one…is it lost?

    I’m afraid that it never hit my server. About once a week a comment triggers the spam filter, but it just sits there, queued for me to approve it. I’ve got no record of a comment submitted by you last night (other than the one that’s listed above, at 2:18 AM—maybe you missed it?), or by anybody that didn’t get posted. Sorry!

  34. I agree with what someone said earlier about having a dependable bus system. I use the #7 to get across town at least once a week and I have found it is /- 5 mins or more off schedule. The bus being late is something I am willing to work with. But who ever heard of a bus being early and leaving? It should wait at the stop and get back on schedule.

    Fortunately, I can use the GPS system on the city’s web site to gauge when the bus will arrive. Here’s the site:

Comments are closed.