An effort to reduce congestion and illegal parking at the South Surrey Park & Ride has led to the introduction of 13 stalls designated for those who carpool.
But while TransLink officials say the move is hoped to encourage more people to share their ride – and avoid the need to tow vehicles being parked illegally – at least one woman says it will do little to ease the problem at the well-used facility.
“Give me a break,” said Tina Hartnell, a South Surrey resident whose 20-year-old daughter takes transit to Langara College. “You’re assuming that these people are all on the same schedule.”
Hartnell’s daughter was among commuters who returned to the lot last month to find a notice on their vehicle warning they could be towed in the future if found parked illegally. The curbs have since been painted yellow, and warning signs have been installed, Hartnell said this week.
TransLink spokesman Drew Snider told Peace Arch News the initial warnings were issued when it was recognized the problem was growing.
He said TransLink’s customer service has been fielding five to 10 complaints per month regarding problem parking at the lot, including some calls from people who have returned to find their vehicle boxed in. Other illegally parked commuters have actually affected bus operations, he said.
“We’re not about to start towing people, but we have to look at practical solutions to what has become a dangerous… inconvenient situation,” Snider said.
The South Surrey Park & Ride, located near the King George Boulevard exits to and from Highway 99, has 481 parking stalls.
In recent weeks, commuters arriving to find the lot full have taken to parking along the curbs and even the exit lane that leads towards the King George.
Snider said a customer survey – determining 91 per cent of those who use the park-and-ride are driving to and from the lot alone – made further efforts to encourage carpooling a logical step.
While Hartnell suggested the lot be expanded, Snider said that option is not financially viable at this time. He confirmed, however, that negotiations “to develop a longer-term solution” are underway, and include the City of Surrey.
A Nov. 3 email to Hartnell from Surrey’s rapid transit and strategic projects manager, Paul Lee, confirms that city staff have been advised of a future plan to double the lot’s current stalls. Lee also confirms the necessary funding – millions of dollars – has not been included in TransLink’s latest financial plan.
Snider is optimistic the carpooling program will help.
“If you can get more people into each car, it would stand to reason it frees up more spaces,” Snider said. “It’s not going to be the be-all and end-all.”
Those interested in taking advantage of the new system may apply online (www.translink.ca/driving/carpooling.aspx) for a carpool pass to reserve one of the stalls. The spots are available to those with a valid pass who arrive with at least two people in the registered vehicle. If there is more demand than the stalls can accommodate, priority will be given vehicles with the most riders.
A similar program offering 27 stalls for carpoolers is in place at the Scott Road SkyTrain Park & Ride.
Snider said TransLink’s ‘Carpool Hero’ program, which is offering opportunities to win fuel, parking passes and ferry passes, is further incentive for commuters to get onboard.
He acknowledged there is no guarantee that the program will take off as hoped.
“It’s always a gamble. How well did we predict how successful the park-and-ride’s going to be? Almost 500 spaces – we figured that was going to be enough.”