Globe And Mail Report: Half of GO Transit’s Free Parking Spaces At Commuter Lots Could Become Paid

Metrolinx spokesperson tells Barrie 360 building more expensive parking spots is not an effective use of taxpayer dollars

Pay to park at GO train stations.

Globe and Mail reports Metrolinx is considering a significant expansion of paid parking.

The newspaper cites “internal documents” that tens of thousands of free spots could become paid parking if Metrolinx moves ahead with a “parking modernization” program.

According to the Globe, the internal documents show Metrolinx could convert up to half of its parking spaces at GO Transit’s commuter lots to paid parking by September 2022. Prices have not been determined.

Less than 8 per cent of GO’s 77,000 parking spaces are reserved for customers who pay $98 a month.

The newspaper says the documents indicate one of the reasons for increasing paid parking is to free up spaces for midday ridership GO is hoping to build.

According to the documents, Metrolinx acknowledges people living near stations could be opposed, as there could be more parking on local streets, while some current customers could abandon transit if they have to pay for parking.

A senior Metrolinx official tells the Globe that each parking lot would need to be assessed differently, adding some are largely pay-parking, while others, which based on their location offer few alternatives to driving, may remain mostly free.

“We already have plans to add 24,000 additional parking spaces by 2031. Building more expensive parking spots is not effective use of taxpayer dollars when other options are available.” said Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins, in an email statement to Barrie 360.

Despite the current 77,000 parking spots, Aikins says they encourage customers to get to the station in ways other than automobiles–walk, cycle, carpool, local public transportation, to leave spots for people that truly travel from far away. In her email, Aikins says customers already have a difficult time finding parking spots at many of our stations.  

“62% of customers that drive to our stations drive alone and almost 1 in 5 customers that live within 1km of a station, drive. We are piloting a variety of options such as partnerships with Uber and Lyft to get our customers to stations. We are also exploring new ways to use reserve parking spots. It is our priority to ensure transit costs remain affordable for our customers. Our study and research continues to find the most effective strategies. We will keep our customers updated as our work progresses. “