King County Metro eyes permits for jam-packed park-and-ride lots

KOMO photo

AUBURN, Wash. – Commuters, listen up!

King County officials say so many drivers are abusing the Metro park-and-ride system that they are launching a pilot permit program to make life easier for carpool users of the parking areas.

And now commuters have until Friday at 4 p.m. to provide their input on the new proposals.

Officials say the park-and-ride lots were built for people who take public transportation. The problem is that drivers are filling the available parking spots and then heading into local businesses, apartments – and even construction sites.

The Auburn park-and-ride lot epitomizes the problem, they say. By 6 a.m. each day, 90 percent of the spots are already filled and by 7 a.m. there may be no spots available.

One woman told KOMO News that she lost her job because she couldn’t find a spot to park and was late reporting to work her second day on the job. Other drivers said they are constantly running into problems and are arriving earlier and earlier to find a spot.

King County’s proposed fix is to offer reserved spots and a free parking permit to proven carpool commuters who can verify that they are using public transportation. Spots in each park-and-ride would be available only to permit holders until 8:30 a.m. The rest would be open to those without a permit.

The plan does away with an earlier proposal to charge a fee for permits, said King County Metro spokesman Scott Gutierrez – although paid parking permits are still listed as an option under active consideration on the Metro website.

For applications that meet the requirements, permits would be issued on a first-come, first-served basis and would be reviewed and renewed monthly or quarterly.

Solo drivers will continue to find parking in unmarked spaces, though Metro Transit officials says they may consider options for those commuters down the road.

King County Metro plans to gauge interest from carpoolers before they decide how many spots will be reserved for permitted drivers. Early on, more than half the spots will remain unmarked and open to any driver.

King County Metro also plans to lease more private properties and parking spaces next year for park-and-ride use – from church parking lots to unused spaces in apartment complexes.

Other fixes that have been discussed include:

– Reducing the maximum length of stay at Metro park-and-rides from 72 to 24 hours.

– Increasing on-site security to enforce park-and-ride rules and improve safety and security for customers and their vehicles.

Other actions under consideration include improving bike and walk conditions, adding bike parking and restriping to fit in more stalls.

The goal is to get people to work – and King County is offering the public an opportunity to comment on the proposals until Friday at 4 p.m.

Commuters can find more information and a link to comment on the proposals at this King County Metro web page … (

A final decision will be made early next year.


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