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Calgary Transit adds more reserved stalls at 69 Street station to meet swelling demand

Change to the number of reserved parking stalls on the West LRT is coming as hundreds have been sitting on a waiting list since 2016.

Starting March 1, 104 stalls will be pulled from the free spots and converted into reserved parking spots at the 69 Street Station at the west end of the Blue Line in order to meet the demand.

Likewise, because of lower demand at the nearby Sirocco station, 38 reserved stalls will be turned into free stalls. These changes were made possible after council altered the city’s Park and Ride policy in March 2018, allowing the balance between free and reserved stalls to be 50/50 on the respective transit leg, as opposed to the even split per station.

According to City of Calgary Manager of Transit Planning, Nikhil Lobo, the decision was made to offer more reserved parking as nearly 2,000 people sit on a waiting list for their chance at a prized spot at the west end of the line.

The next longest reserved parking stall waiting list, you ask? Tuscany station. Sixty people (Roughly 30 each from the Tuscany and Rocky Ridge sides).

Patrons pay $85 monthly to essentially guarantee themselves a parking spot at their selected Calgary Transit lot and the number of available spots varies from station to station. Spots are reserved from 2 a.m. to 10 a.m. each weekday when they are then put into the general parking pool.

“This is really to provide more certainty for people who want reserved parking at 69 Street and provide some additional free capacity at Sirocco,” Lobo said.

The net gain in reserved stalls will generate an additional $67,000 in revenue for Calgary Transit, but Lobo said optimizing revenue is only one component.

“The main driver is to respond to customer demand. The focus should be on making access to the LRT system easier, the park and ride easier,” he said.

Calgary Transit makes nearly $3 million annually off reserved parking stalls, Lobo said, and that’s used to offset costs – and ultimately helps them hold off on larger fare increases or the share of the tax revenue used to operate the city’s LRT system.

Ward 6 councillor Jeff Davison said the demand for these reserved stalls at 69 Street started as soon as the West LRT opened. While the demand stays steady he doesn’t hear much about trouble parking at the lot.

“One of the things that we looked at with the West LRT was, what’s the balance of customers that want and need free parking and those who are willing to pay to reserve,” he said.

“When you go back and consider why we have reserved spots – the demand that certain neighbourhoods created and asked for.”

While Davison said nearly 85 per cent of people in the area use other modes to reach the 69 Street station, he noted that with the current economy not everyone has the convenience of a predictable schedule and flexibility to ensure that they have the appropriate time to catch a bus to the station.

More than 6,300 people board at the 69 Street Station daily as it serves as the primary transit depot serving the west end of the city. It’s also the only parkade-style, covered Calgary Transit lot – and Lobo said those are the primary reasons why the demand is far higher than other locations in the city.

When the Park and Ride policy changed Calgary Transit indicated at the time that they would review and adjust other lots as necessary, with work to be done by 2020. Lobo said the demand for reserved stalls along the line ebbs and flows with the health of the city’s economy.

They’re looking at the entire system right now and there are no plans to change any of the other stations at this time.