February 22, 2010
Things I learned today about Commuter Parking in Fairfield and the impact of the New Train Station -
- There were 3612 people on the Commuter Parking Waitlist for the Downtown Fairfield Train Station as of August 25, 2009.
- According to the Parking Authority, the February 25, 2010 estimate is approx 3800.
- When someone registers currently for the Wait List, they are put on both the Southport and the Downtown Waitlist - so the lists are mostly duplicates or the 3800 on the Downtown list is a reasonable estimate of the total commuters waiting for a Parking Permit.
- In 2009, there were about 500 applications sent out by the Parking Authority with approx 400 being returned and accepted for new permits to be issued. This means approx 500 people come off the wait list each year.
- The Parking Authority is currently using the 2004 section of the list to send out Applications. This is where the 6 year wait estimate comes from.
- Based on current absorption, 500 per year divided by 3800 is almost an 8 year lead time for people going on the list today.
- The New Train Station has been in the works for almost 13 years.
- When the New Train Station was originally planned, the Commuter Wait List in Fairfield was less than 1000 names. This is when the 1500 spaces were planned. More than enough to eliminate the entire Wait List for Commuter Parking Spaces.
- It should be noted that the current plan also includes taking approx 300 spaces away from the current Downtown Commuter Parking to be used to expand Downtown Retail Parking. So the number Net New Parking Spaces with the New Train Station is 1200.
- The current plan calls for "overselling" by 25% so that would create 1500 new permits or reduce the current Wait List from 3800 to 2300.
- If we assume that no one from Bridgeport or Stratford stations would want to park in the nice new Fairfield Station, then we would have approx a 4.5 year wait after the New Station is built. If more people from other towns would rather drive to Fairfield then the wait could easily be 5 years or more.
- Currently the Fairfield Train Station is the 2nd most used station in the State. Stamford is number one. If we are planning for the future, we should be adding capacity for the future not just for the past.
- The current plan also has the State controlling the Parking at the New Train Station not the Town. This seems to lead to two Wait Lists rather than one.
- If the Fairfield Parking Authority were to pick up responsibility for this third parking area, would it lead to a need for more staff?
- All this leads to the question, why are we not considering building more parking capacity now?
- Does a multi level Parking Garage make sense?
- If so, building it now would be the make the most sense. Expanding Capacity later would cause major trauma and the need to relocate some if not all of the 1500 cars using the station daily.
- Expanding Capacity later would most likely be a more expensive option.
I developed most of these observations after talking with Parking Authority staff. The math calculations and projections are my own.
Some of the facts in this write up are hearsay since I haven't looked at the actual agreement with the State. I am hoping that this document will help encourage discussion and raise some questions that can be answered in a timely fashion. If after all 13 years of drama and trauma, we end up with a 5-6 year wait list for commuter parking permits, I am not sure this would be called a success.
The Tax Revenue stream originally envisioned is not going to happen in the near term. The solution to our parking problem would be the most significant benefit to this development. Let's hope it accomplishes that one goal.
Prepared by Mike Tetreau - Member Board of Finance.