DART may restore free parking for all at rail stations

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on November 12, 2013 at 7:13 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 12 at 8:40 PM

Dallas Area Rapid Transit hoped to bank a few bucks from commuters in Carrollton, Plano and beyond. The plan called on charging drivers to park at light rail stations if they live outside of a DART member city.

Now, the transit agency is considering putting the brakes on its "Fair Share" parking fees.

Pamela Heath lives in Plano. She put a sticker on her windshield that exempts her from paying $2 to park at DART's Parker Road Station.

She says the fee has persuaded park-and-ride patrons from non-DART cities to park further down the line, where they don't have to pay.

"I know that Allen and McKinney people like to park here," said Heath. "I believe they have to pay for it."

The two-year pilot program to charge some commuters for parking ends in April. It was designed to reduce the number of cars parking at Parker Road and the North Carrollton stations.

It worked. Riders from non-member cities flocked to other stations where they could park for free.

"We created some problems downstream," said DART spokesman Morgan Lyons. "Bush Turnpike on the Red Line and Trinity Mills on the Green Line became much more crowded. It created some problems."

The parking program was also supposed to make money for DART. It is not.

In fact, the cash it has generated isn't even enough to pay the contractor that issues the permits and checks license plates.

"It's not covering the cost," said Lyons.

David Kost lives in McKinney, which isn't in the DART network, so he doesn't pay DART taxes. He pays $40 a month to park at the Parker Road station.

Kost would like to see those charges go away. "It's going to help me," said Kost. "It's going to save me $40 a month. I can put that money to something else. So I'm in favor of it."

A DART committee voted to end the program in April when the contract is up. The transit agency's board will vote on it next month.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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