Chapel Hill approves $250 park-and-ride fee

tgrubb@newsobserver.comApril 11, 2013 

— Drivers using town-owned park-and-ride lots will pay $250 a year for the privilege starting Aug. 15.

The Town Council’s vote Wednesday aims to keep UNC students and employees from parking in free town lots after UNC levies a similar fee at its lots in August. The money will help pay for Chapel Hill Transit services, too, interim Director Brian Litchfield said.

Drivers can pay the $250 annual fee, $21 per month or $2 per day. The fee will be charged at the Eubanks Road, Southern Village and Jones Ferry Road lots. If Carrboro Plaza owners agree, the fee also could be charged at the N.C. 54 West lot in Carrboro.

The council delayed its discussion of another proposal – to provide discounts to Chapel Hill residents taking Triangle Transit buses to Raleigh – to a future meeting.

A Triangle Transit survey found an average of 71 riders catch the CRX route at the Eubanks Road lot, Litchfield said. The survey also reported that roughly 47 percent have a Chapel Hill address, 20 percent have a Carrboro address and the rest come from Alamance County, he said.

Some carpool, bike or walk to the lot, he said. Others may have an employer-paid GoPass.

The council is trying to decide whether riders who pay town taxes that support Chapel Hill Transit should get a break, because they also pay $4 round trip to ride Triangle Transit.

Triangle Transit officials are not interested in paying their riders’ fees, but they might discuss paying an usage fee, Litchfield said.

Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said he would like to see the town try to remove one hurdle for a group of residents committed to transit use.

But council members Jim Ward and Matt Czajkowski raised concerns about a discount. Czajkowski said the town seems poised again to take on a financial burden to encourage certain behaviors. Ward said it’s not certain the riders need the discount.

“We have a great service here, and in order to keep this service, we need to fund it. I think it’s a luxury that we can’t afford to do,” Ward said. “Even if we’re charging this fee to park and ride there, it’s still a bargain.”

It will cost the town about $128,000 to install signs and pay stations, hire part-time employees and repaint the park-and-ride lots. The annual operating cost would be $69,000, and annual revenues are estimated at $162,000 with UNC’s contribution.

UNC’s park-and-ride fee is based on a sliding-scale, averaging $250 annually. It is part of a five-year plan to cover its $6.5 million transportation and parking budget shortfall. The university also agreed to pay $150,000 a year to Chapel Hill Transit for UNC employees and students who use town-owned lots, Litchfield said.

Grubb: 919-932-8746

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