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BART spent 1.8bn tax dollars to build airport parking lots

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  • 7/13 SF Chronicle
    Published Friday, July 13, 2007, in the San Francisco Chronicle BART to court SFO passengers with cut-rate parking on Peninsula By Rachel Gordon BART is
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 15, 2007
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      Published Friday, July 13, 2007, in the San Francisco Chronicle

      BART to court SFO passengers with cut-rate parking on Peninsula

      By Rachel Gordon

      BART is ramping up a potentially lucrative side business that caters
      to motorists.

      The BART Board of Directors voted unanimously Thursday to start
      offering long-term parking at four of its Peninsula stations for
      travelers using San Francisco International Airport. The program needs
      final approval from the Federal Transit Administration before it can
      get started. BART officials hope to get the green light this summer.

      At $6 a day, the price is set to beat other parking lot operators that
      serve SFO. The agency also hopes the program will lure additional
      riders to its Peninsula route.

      "One of our goals is to build ridership," said BART spokesman Linton
      Johnson.

      The Peninsula BART extension, which was completed four years ago,
      serves Colma, South San Francisco, San Bruno, Millbrae and
      SFO. Original estimates put daily ridership on the route at 50,000,
      but the actual number has been closer to 30,000, meaning less fare-box
      revenue for BART.

      BART officials hope to make at least $332,000 a year off the program
      -- and potentially much more -- once an outside vendor is paid $1 a
      day per car to operate it. The $332,000 figure is based on 30 percent
      of the spaces being filled.

      Initially, BART hopes to offer 500 spaces -- 100 each at the Colma,
      South San Francisco and San Bruno stations, and 200 at the Millbrae
      Station. The Daly City Station lot, already operating at
      near-capacity, would not be part of the airport parking program.

      The spaces reserved for airport parking will only be available until
      10 a.m. After that they will be put up for grabs for general use.

      The number of spaces available for long-term parking will vary month
      by month. If the demand for parking by regular commuters goes up, the
      number of spaces offered to airport users would go down.

      "The daily riders need to be our priority, rather than the people who
      park two weeks while they go to Hawaii," said BART Director Tom
      Radulovich.

      A monthly survey will be conducted to monitor usage at the BART
      parking lots.

      The regional rail agency, which carries about 350,000 passengers a
      day, has been offering long-term parking at several East Bay station
      lots since 2004 for travelers using Oakland International
      Airport. That program, which charges $5 a day for parking, has
      generated more than $735,000 since it began, officials report.

      Long-term lots around the San Francisco airport generally charge $12
      or more a day. Some charge less, some considerably more.

      While the BART lots will be cheaper, in most cases, travelers will
      have to factor in the cost to ride BART. The round-trip cost from
      Colma to SFO, for example, is $8.70. The fare costs multiply with each
      additional person traveling in the party -- as opposed to the
      per-vehicle cost of other parking lots.

      Cabs, airport vans and hitching a ride from an accommodating friend or
      relative are other popular alternatives for people getting to and from
      the airport.

      There was little public opposition to the BART airport parking plan,
      although the city of South San Francisco raised objections, focusing
      on the potential scenario that airport parkers would push daily
      commuters who drive to the BART station into surrounding
      neighborhoods.

      BART officials reiterated, however, that they have no desire to take
      parking away from regular commuters but instead want to make use of
      surplus parking. Officials say hundreds of spaces go unused every day.

      Behind the scenes, cities and private parking lot operators have
      grumbled that the new competition would lead to lost revenue. South
      San Francisco, for instance, makes more than $1 million a year from
      taxes levied on the parking enterprises within its boundaries. San
      Bruno expects to make about $200,000 this year in tax revenue from
      SkyPark, the only such business in that city serving airport users.

      "Any competition is cause for concern,"San Bruno Finance Director Jim
      O'Leary said.

      In San Bruno, $200,000 is enough to pay the annual salary and benefits
      for 11/2 police officers, O'Leary said.

      BART, as a government agency, doesn't have to pay taxes on the money
      it makes from parking.


      Online resources:

      If approved, how BART airport program will work

      * Step 1: Motorists will go to BART's Web site, www.bart.gov, select
      link to airport/long-term parking and select the desired station and
      proposed dates.
      * Step 2: A computerized parking reservation program will determine
      space availability. If no spaces are available at the preferred
      station, another station will be recommended.
      * Step 3: If long-term parking is available, the traveler will prepay
      by credit card and then print the permit along with instructions on
      where to park and how to display the permit. Permit holders will be
      guaranteed a space in the designated lot until 10 a.m.
      Step 4: BART police patrolling the lots will make sure the permit is valid.


      E-mail Rachel Gordon at rgordon@...


      Graphic

      BART-to-SFO parking program

      Colma:
      $8.70 BART fare round trip to SFO station
      1406 total parking spaces
      350 average available weekday spaces
      100 spaces to be allocated to airport parking

      South San Francisco
      $7.90 BART fare round trip to SFO station
      1371 total parking spaces
      185 average available weekday spaces
      100 spaces to be allocated to airport parking

      San Bruno
      $7.90 BART fare round trip to SFO station
      1072 total parking spaces
      235 average available weekday spaces
      100 spaces to be allocated to airport parking

      Millbrae [BATN: Quentin Kopp Memorial Parking Facility]
      $3.00 BART fare round trip to SFO station
      2981 total parking spaces
      1160 average available weekday spaces
      200 spaces to be allocated to airport parking
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