Bus passengers begin the transit portion of their commute Wednesday morning at the South Surrey park and ride

Bus passengers begin the transit portion of their commute Wednesday morning at the South Surrey park and ride

Bus users balk at park-and-ride fees

A proposed shift to a $2-a-day minimum fee has South Surrey commuters unhappy, but resigned.

The planned end to free parking at the South Surrey TransLink park-and-ride lot and a proposed shift to a $2-a-day minimum fee has local commuters unhappy, but resigned.

“That’s ridiculous,” said White Rock resident Virginia Tomkow, a flight attendant who relies on the King George lot to get to work at Vancouver International Airport.

“We pay enough for that (already),” Tomkow told Peace Arch News Tuesday.

The only positive, she said, was the parking fee might reduce congestion at the often-overcrowded lot.

Tomkow said she will pay the fee, because she has no practical alternative.

“It’s essential,’ she said. “I work (late) shifts and I can’t get a bus in the evening in White Rock.”

Crescent Beach resident Bob Semaniuk, who was waiting in his car for a parking spot to come open, said TransLink is “nickel and diming” riders who are trying to save money.

“I don’t think that would be fair,” Semaniuk said of the parking fee.

“People are already strapped.”

Commuter Kim Ross was dismayed to hear a parking charge was being contemplated.

“That sucks,” Ross said.

The former White Rock resident, who returned by bus Tuesday to visit relatives, predicted the additional expense will deter people from using the transit system.

“It just adds up,” Ross said. “That’s (another) $10 a week, $40 a month.”

Another regular rider, Kelly Craik, agreed.

“It adds up,” Craik said. “That’s not right.”

Among the half-a-dozen commuters whom agreed to be interviewed by Peace Arch News, only one person, a visitor from Vancouver Island who didn’t give her name, supported the notion.

“It’s user pay,” she said. “Someone has to pay for it (transit).”

The planned minimum parking fee of $2 a day was revealed in TransLink’s new draft 2013 plan unveiled Monday (see page 8).

“Prices will vary depending on the local markets,” TransLink vice-president Bob Paddon said Monday. “It will bring us much needed revenues.”

TransLink projects it will raise $2.2 million by charging at the free lots and raising the prices at some of the pay lots.

The South Surrey park-and-ride is already heavily overcrowded, which led TransLink this year to start towing incorrectly parked vehicles.

Paddon said imposing pay parking should give motorists much better odds of finding a space at crowded lots in the future.

The hope is that more drivers who use park and rides will simply leave their cars at home and catch feeder buses nearby to avoid the parking fees.

TransLink plans to develop more park-and-rides in the future, including ones to serve the Evergreen Line in Port Moody and Coquitlam.

About 3,500 of the 4,300 park-and-ride spaces TransLink controls are already pay parking.

– with files from Jeff Nagel

 

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