Sunday, February 11, 2007

When is a parking spot not a parking spot?

When it's actually not a parking spot. Case in point:

The cars parked behind the sign are parked legally. The cars parked in front of the sign are parked illegally. I call this a "make-a-spot." Not only is it illegal, its a disaster waiting to happen. The aisles in parking lots are wide enough so that emergency vehicles can maneuver between parked cars with ease. These illegally parked cars make the aisles narrower.

There are three GO stations in Brampton. Mount Pleasant station is about half full on most days, but being on the very edge of town, most passengers heading to that station are heading in the opposite direction of their commute. From what I've observed, people don't like to go backwards in order to go forwards. Brampton was completely full when it had three parking lots, and now that it only has two, the parking situation is even worse. Bramalea is the only centrally located station which has parking left - about 60 to 75% full on most weekdays.

At many other GO Station across the GTA, parking is a serious issue. In many cases, the train stations are located in the oldest, most dense parts of the city, where there's simply no room to build another parking lot. So what can we do?

At some of the stations, Bronte in particular, the idea of parking structures has floated around. While expensive, and possibly a source of chaos when everyone tries to leave at once, its a good idea to add more parking without taking up more room at the train station. My only hope is that it be always build underground, as station buildings should be easily seen from the street. The other solution is to build park n' ride lots at all transit terminals, and increase local transit connections to and from the GO Station.

Lets say I live near Credit Valley Road and Glen Erin Drive in Mississauga, and I want to get to Streetsville GO Station for the 7:25 train. By transit, this will take 30 minutes. By driving, less than 10 - if I can find parking (in the case of Streetsville GO Station, nearby parking, as the station building is a good 500 metres from the street). Why can't I drive to the Mississauga Transit terminal at Erin Mills Town Centre (less than 5 minutes), be guaranteed a spot, and take an express bus to the GO station?

GO floated a variant on this idea a while back, saying that if the local transit agencies weren't willing to do it, they might be. Regardless, someone should do it because it needs to be done.

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