Council to consider fees for park-n-ride lots

Mar. 21, 2013 @ 08:32 PM

Motorists who use three of the town’s park-n-ride lots would have to pay for the privilege beginning in August under a plan proposed by Chapel Hill Transit.

On Monday, the Town Council will consider an agenda item that would require motorists to pay a fee to park at lots on Eubanks and Jones Ferry roads and at the one in Southern Village.

The town is also having conversations with the Town of Carrboro and the owner of the park-n-ride lot behind Carrboro Plaza about whether a fee would be charged there if the council approves the plan.

If the fee measure is approved, the town would begin to charge parking fees for the lots in August to coincide with UNC also beginning to charge motorists who use its park-n-ride lots.

The town, university and the Town of Carrboro are partners in Chapel Hill Transit and share the cost to operate Chapel Hill’s fare-free transit system.

The discussion to move to a fee system for park-n-ride lots began in 2010 and is a response to the rising cost to operate the transit system and a reduction in federal and state funding.

The fee is expected to raise about $150,000 for the town and more than $500,000 for UNC next fiscal year.

Brian Litchfield, the town’s interim transit director, said the staff is also asking that the town move to a fee system to help manage the more than 1,200 parking spaces available at the lots.

“If UNC was to implement a fee and the town did not implement a similar fee structure, those lots may be over-utilized because of us not having a fee,” he said.

Transit officials say UNC employees represent about 75 percent of the users of the town lots, and that number would likely grow even higher if the university charged for parking and the town did not.

Under the plan, motorists who use the town’s lots would pay $2 daily, $21 monthly or $250 per year, and passes sold by UNC to its employees would be honored at town lots.

Only UNC will be able to sell parking permits to its employees, so that the payment can be pre-taxed and also so employees can take advantage of payroll deductions.

Litchfield said the fees UNC will charge are similar, but the fee charged to employees and students also will be based on income levels.

UNC is the largest contributor to the Chapel Hill Transit. The university’s contribution to the transit system is expected to be about $7.4 million in fiscal year 2013-14, which is about 60 percent of the local contribution to the system’s more than $18.6 million operating budget.

The town’s share is expected to be about $3.7 million, a little more than 30 percent and Carrboro’s portion is projected to be $1.3 million, about 10.5 percent of the system’s operating budget.