Red Line: an Alternative to Scarce Parking
March 14, 2013 1 Comment
State transportation funding is coming down to the wire and Baltimore’s Red Line is at stake. Losing out on this $2.5 billion injection into Baltimore’s economy is one of the many reasons outlined nicely in this commentary. However, it’s also worth talking about the many ways the Red Line will help your parking situation especially if you live in or visit Southeast (SE) Baltimore.
Premium street parking in SE Baltimore
Everyone who has driven to downtown, Harbor East, Little Italy, Fells Point, Canton, and Greektown knows street parking is beyond a precious commodity and garage parking is expensive. When there is an event like the Fells Point Fun Festival, parking is a nightmare. Everyday parking is no piece of cake either and has created regular tension between residents, businesses, restaurants, and retailers. The Red Line will help in a major way.
If a meager four percent of the Red Line’s projected 50,000 daily users who would otherwise be parking on downtown/Southeast neighborhood streets are riding the Red Line instead of driving, it would free up 2,000 street spaces. That translates to over thirteen acres of parking. To build the equivalent amount of spaces in new parking garages would cost in the ballpark of $40,000,000 and would likely cost far more than a transit ticket for users to park. As an added bonus, Red Line users will generally bypass another Baltimore problem, traffic congestion, by speeding under the most congested intersections.
For many in SE Baltimore, parking is their number one headache. Of note, much of the Red Line opposition in SE Baltimore comes from those with their own parking spaces. The Red Line is not going to solve parking scarcity in SE Baltimore, but it will be darn nice to have an another way to get around and an alternative to giving up a space that you may have worked very hard to find.
Increasingly scarce parking in Canton Image source: Barbara H. Taylor, Baltimore Sun
Where do people park at events like the Fells Point Fun Festival? Red Line will help. Image source: City Data
The Red Line would go underneath this congestion Image source: Business Insider
The future of street parking without the Red Line Image source: signature 9
Savings from not owning a car
According to Consumer Expenditures in 2006, released in February of 2008 by the US Department of Labor’s US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average vehicle costs $8,003 per year to own and operate. Meanwhile, an annual MTA pass costs $768. Zipcars also provide an alternative to car ownership.
Let’s presume 20% of the 50,000 Red Line daily riders decide they don’t need a car (or a second or third vehicle in their household). Assuming they all purchase a monthly MTA pass, that 20% of riders would collectively save more than $72 million per year.
Of course, if you don’t own a car you don’t have to park it.
If you don’t like:
- searching for scarce parking
- paying for parking
- the cost of owning and maintaining one or more vehicles
- having a landscape devoted to surface parking or garages
- traffic congestion at intersections
- having federal infrastructure dollars being spent outside of Baltimore
then the Red Line might be exactly what you need!