Parking charge coming to Larkspur Ferry Terminal

In a stroke of good news, GGT will begin charging $2 for parking at the Larkspur Ferry Terminal (LFT) on January 6.

The charge is part of a progressive plan to manage access at LFT. Last year, there were few ways to get o LFT without a car, but the parking lot filled up after 8:30am, leaving mid-day travelers stranded and depressing ridership.

GGT tackled this high demand by implementing a shuttle bus in Ross Valley, called the Wave, to give people an alternative to driving. With the $2 charge, GGT is also trying to encourage people to use the shuttle or bike. In short, rather than try to boost parking supply by building garages, GGT is trying to reduce parking demand.

It’s a smart plan. Travel from LFT is highly “peaked,” with a lot of people taking the ferry for commutes to and from San Francisco but hardly anyone taking it in the middle of the day. Boosting the parking supply would further overwhelm those morning ferries.

It’s cheaper to encourage people to take the bus to and from the ferry or to and from the city with a parking charge. The result is a parking lot with space for afternoon riders and essentially the same number of commute riders.

GGT staff should monitor the situation carefully and establish a goal of a certain percentage of spaces available after the morning rush. With such a goal in mind, the Board could raise or lower the parking charge as needed to attain that goal.

The next big thing for Marin-San Francisco LFT riders are new bus pads under the 101 overpass at Sir Francis Drake. Approved as part of the Greenbrae Interchange Project, the pads will mean travelers on the 101 trunk line routes (17, 36, 70, 71, 80, and possibly 101) will be able to easily transfer to the ferry, unlike the current trek from Paradise Drive. SMART will likely come soon after that.

Combined with the parking charge, LFT will be able to accommodate more years of booming ridership growth and allow it to become the all-day service the Sausalito ferry is. Though it will bump up against the limits of its ferry infrastructure eventually, that is a far better problem than being limited by a parking lot.

About David Edmondson
A native Marinite working in Washington, DC, I am fascinated by how one might apply smart-growth and urbanist thinking to the low-density towns of my home.

5 Responses to Parking charge coming to Larkspur Ferry Terminal

  1. dw says:

    I predict that putting people on the bus, adding twenty minutes on each end of the commute, seems quite unreasonable to those who are having such misery inflicted upon them.

    What’s the goal here? What we’re getting to is a sharply increasing class curve with respect to transportation. The wealthy can afford the luxury of automobile travel, while the masses are forced by government created economics to spend their time riding a bus.

    • Alai says:

      Surely even you would agree that charging for parking is less of a burden to the poor than raising fares on the ferry, simply because the poorer they are the more likely they are to not drive?

      Perhaps they should charge for parking, but discount the fare by such an amount so as to make the change revenue-neutral. That way, you get the benefits of parking management and you help decrease the class curve at the same time.

      • dw says:

        The extreme poor, those unable to afford a car, don’t much travel from Marin to SF.

        Regular people drive cars. The effort to penalize cars puts a segment of the population into a very painful dilemma. Suffer wasted time to give up their car, or suffer to pay the punitive tax.

        In their effort to extract money from wealthy car drivers, the forces of more government control over transportation end up inflicting pain mostly onto the lower working classes. The common reaction to this pain will be for such people to minimize travel to SF. Indeed, that will leave more room for the more wealthy ferry passengers.

        • 1) If you’re going to San Francisco and $2 (and your time) is at a premium, you’ll take a cheaper and faster bus anyway. 2) About a quarter of Marin-to-SF commuting is by transit, and many of those who travel that way are wealthy enough to drive. 3) If the concern is for the poor, then we’ll want to do what is most cost-effective, so as to avoid adding an excessive burden of taxation. As it turns out, in the case of Larkspur, adding garages is not the most cost-effective method of getting people to the terminal. Adding bus service (already popular!) and charging for parking to make the transfers free, however, is.

          And it’s not a punitive tax. It’s a cost for a scarce resource to ensure it’s not only provided on a first-come, first-served problem. Why is someone who comes to the ferry at 7am more deserving of a parking space than someone who comes at 11am? If they aren’t more deserving, but we want to grow the supply of parking instead, why should we socialize the cost of that parking onto people who will never benefit from it?

          • dw says:

            Why is someone who comes to the ferry at 7am more deserving of a parking space than someone who comes at 11am?

            So what’s the goal here?

            Is the goal to persuade some early car parkers to change their pattern, so as to allow more parking for later arrivers?

            Economically coerced behavior changes in transportation fall almost completely upon the working poor, a class which in my estimation deserves the most support from our transportation system. They’re mostly on the way up, and with support, will eventually contribute at a higher level.

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