The estimate that additional stalls will cost $100,000 each at the Kent Sounder station causes sticker shock, but keeping commuters using trains is worth fulfilling the promised expansion of parking.
Fifty bucks to park for a few hours? It’s a shock, but the event’s a great one the family wants to see. So what’s there to do but dig deeper in the wallet and pay.
Same with parking at Sounder stations: More and more commuters, who have been shelling out money to pay for Sound Transit projects, are using the trains, and they already fill the existing lots by 7 a.m. on weekdays. Those who arrive too late to find a spot often use nearby neighborhoods to “hide and ride.” They aren’t going to let the lack of parking prevent them from using a great way to get to work.
The hide-and-ride has to stop, says Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke. The provided parking doesn’t meet the demand now, and with more population, more trains and more users coming, the problem will only get worse.
There are 996 garage and lot spaces now, and 550 more spots planned in Kent by 2023. The estimated cost for the new Kent structure has risen from $35 million to $65 million.
That’s evidence that Sound Transit needs to do a better job at estimating and controlling costs. With the size and number of its projects, the agency would seem to be in a position to drive costs down with long-term contracts.
But there’s no turning back from the promise made during the Sound Transit 2 campaign in 2008 that park-and-ride capacity would grow. People ought to be able to use the infrastructure they have been paying for almost a decade now.
Four more Sounder trips are being added on Sept. 25, and trains with more cars are planned for the future. More parking is needed to keep up, not only in Kent but in Auburn, Sumner and Puyallup, where additional parking is planned.
The parking crunch could be reduced by making it easier to get to the stations by bus, on foot and by bike. Bus routes would carry the most capacity, and Kent should consider creating bus-only lanes leading to the Sounder station.
A quick train ride is a better morning and evening event than sitting in traffic on Highway 167 and Interstate 5. Anything that makes it easier for commuters to get to the train on time will help the region with its growing transportation needs.