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Daily Commuter Battle Continues

Victoria Kubinski (3L)

The City of Edmonton just made it a lot more difficult for those commuting from the South Side to Central Edmonton. The Century Park LRT Station located at 111 Street and 23 Avenue has been a popular spot for people to ‘Park and Ride’ for free or for $50 per month for a reserved spot.

There are a total of 1 323 stalls at the Century Park LRT Station. Prior to September 1, 2016, less than one-quarter of the total parking spots were reserved paid parking. However, the City has now increased the reserved parking to 75% of spots, leaving only 25% available for free parking. This has prompted both positive and negative feedback from commuters and surrounding neighborhoods.

Why the change? Currently, the City is leasing the gravel parking lot from ProCura Developments, costing the city a pretty penny each year.The end goal for Procura is to build residential units and business on this land and further develop the Century Park area. Therefore, it makes sense for the City to charge for more stalls, right?

Consider the fact that there are approximately 5000 people waiting for a paid parking spot (about a four year waiting list). With 5000 people waiting for these spots, and only 330 available free parking spots, it’s no surprise that every morning is a battle for a parking spot.

The lack of free spots (or spots in general) could not only impact ridership but also the surrounding neighborhoods. Ridership could decrease as people opt to drive to school or work even if it means having to pay for parking at their final destination. Ridership could also go up as people choose to take the bus directly from their home to the LRT, even if it means more inconvenience. Surrounding neighborhoods such as Blue Quill could see an increase in vehicles parking in their neighborhoods, which could also affect the businesses nearby.

The Park and Ride stations have been an integral part of the Edmonton Transit System and are designed to promote ridership. They provide a convenient means for those living outside the Edmonton core to use the transit system. Does this reduction in free parking and a lack of options for paid parking mean that the City is taking a giant leap backwards?

It currently costs students approximately $35 per month to take the LRT ($90 without the U-Pass). With the $50 monthly charge for a paid spot, the total cost is $85 per month. However, the average commuter will have to wait 4 years for a paid spot. In the meantime, for just $35 per month, you can drive to Century Park LRT Station at 6am and battle with hundreds of commuters for a parking spot so you can take an over-crowded LRT to school or work. All in all, I’m not sure this is a step forward for the city. Maybe the City really knows what it’s doing in the long run, but in the meantime I will be fighting harder, along with many other commuters, to find a parking spot in the morning.