SOUTH SURREY â€” Two months after TransLink opened a $4.5-million expansion to the South Surrey Park and Ride and implemented a $2 parking fee, the lot is still sitting empty.
In fact, would-be commuters have now taken to parking along nearby streets and residential areas, causing many residents to call in with complaints to the City of Surrey.
"It is causing a significant inconvenience and we are receiving a number of complaints from neighbours," said Coun. Tom Gill, head of the city’s transportation and infrastructure committee. "The city, from a risk perspective, is concerned there are a lot more cars on the side of the roads and the neighbours are complaining in terms of parking access and visibility."
Prior to the opening of the expansion, the original 473-stall lot was free for commuters to park at, which often led to it filling up quickly each morning. However, once the 367 additional spots were opened in November, the $2 fee was applied to both lots. Now facing an additional $2 fee per day, commuters are seemingly doing everything they can to avoid paying.
"We were at max capacity, and now with the $2 charge we’ve come down in terms of overall numbers," said Gill. "The issue that we’re faced with are those same folks that were previously utilizing the lots are now using portions of the roadway to park their vehicles."
The expansion was funded by the provincial government at a cost of $4.5 million and handed over to TransLink for operation. When reached for comment, TransLink’s director of infrastructure and network management, Sany R. Zein, said the fees were implemented in order to pay for the lot’s continued maintenance.
"The move to pay parking is part of TransLink’s park-and-ride policy, which guides the supply, pricing and management of TransLink-managed facilities," said Zein. "It is intended to recover the operational costs of park-and-ride facilities."
Asked about possibly reducing or eliminating the fee entirely, Zein said that wasn’t an option at this point.
"We are monitoring the usage of the lot while taking into consideration the fact that usage patterns take some time to settle down after the introduction of pay parking," he said. "As pay parking has only been in effect for a short time, it is still too early to identify trends, and we are not considering changes at this time."
In the meantime, Gill said the city was looking at possibly putting parking restrictions on the streets surrounding the park-and-ride.
"I would expect that we are looking at a strategy to have ‘No Parking’ signs installed in specific locations, and also some emphasis at looking at some locations that would have a maximum time permitting somebody, to curtail some of these issues," said Gill. "In the long term, I do believe that lot will be used, and it is good, in the sense, that we have that capacity, but I am disappointed in the short term."