I’m not surprised to hear that COTA lots are full and drivers are finding new places to park. In the last year, 43 users have used the search terms “COTA park and ride” or “Columbus park and ride” to link to XingColumbus, but 41 of those searches were made in the last 90 days. So anecdotally, it appears that there is more interest in parking and riding in Columbus. COTA’s ridership numbers and the story below confirm it.
New bus-riders fill up parking lots
Sunday, June 1, 2008 6:52 PM
By DEAN NARCISO
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
As gas prices climb, more people are drawn to the bus.
On the way, they’re creating hundreds of unofficial park-and-ride lots.
Their cars huddle in commercial lots next to Central Ohio Transit Authority bus signs like ants around a sugar cube.
“In some cases, the people who own the lots are happy to have them there, especially the retail businesses that provide services or sell things — they might see it as an opportunity,” said Bob Lawler, director of transportation for the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission. “In other cases, it may hamper their regular business if they’re short on parking.”
…COTA acknowledges that its park-and-ride lots are filling. So far this month, there have been 121,668 more riders than in May 2007, an increase of more than 10 percent.
This is a good problem to have. How do we support all the people who want to ride transit?
More express routes to more locations would be great, but I think the short-term solution is more shared park and ride lots. A shared park and ride is an arrangement where a shopping center or other facility allows a portion of their lot to be used by transit riders. This has been done successfully at Graceland, Northern Lights, Kingsdale, Southland, and lots of churches. This is good for the transit agency because it gives riders a place to park. It’s good for a shopping center because those parkers will shop at stores on the way home. I’m not sure how it benefits a church. Maybe COTA pays them.
Here is an excerpt from some research by the Florida DOT about how much shopping people do at shared park and rides :
The results indicate that the park and ride users at the survey sites are, indeed, shopping at the shopping centers when they park at the park and ride.
- Sixty-nine percent of the 68 respondents from the smaller park and rides shopped at the shopping center at least once a week when using the park and ride, spending a weekly average of $37.79 per shopper.
- Forty-four percent of 70 respondents from a hospital shuttle park and ride shopped at the shopping center at least once a week when using the park and ride, spending a weekly average of $25.06 per shopper.
- Fifty percent of the 124 respondents from the football shuttle park and ride shopped at least once a football season when using the park and ride, spending an average of $72.09 per shopper each football season.
These weekly averages could translate into annual expenditures of $1,965.08 per shopper for users of the smaller park and rides and $1,303.12 per shopper for users of the hospital shuttle park and ride.
Furthermore, a significant proportion of those users would not have shopped at the retail center if the park and ride lot did not exist. Overall, 42.9% of the 70 shoppers would have either made their purchases elsewhere or would not have made the purchases at all if they had not used the park and ride at the subject shopping center.
These results show that the shared use park and rides studied actually increased the shopping centers’ customer bases.
So who should COTA approach about implementing some new official shared park and rides? I’d love to hear your ideas. Here are some of my suggestions of places with existing transit service and giant parking lots that probably don’t fill up very often:
- #1 – Columbus Square Mall – Cleveland Ave & Fuji Dr (just north of SR-161)
- #1 – Meijer – Cleveland Ave & Northland Plaza Dr (just south of SR-161)
- #1, #36, #37 – Westerville Square or Westerville Plaza – State St (SR-3) & Schrock Rd
- #2 – JC Penny Outlet or the Andersons – Scarborough Blvd
- #2 – Consumer Square East – Tussing Rd east of Brice
- #2, #31 – Worthington Square Mall
- #3, #15 – Central Pointe – Harrisburg Pike & Mound St
- #5, #57 – Westpointe Plaza – Renner Rd & Rentra (just east of Hilliard-Rome Rd)
- #8, #9, #34, #87 – Granville Centre – Karl Rd & SR-161
- #10 – Westland Mall
- #10 – Great Western Shopping Center
- #15 – Southwest Square – Harrisburg Pike & Eakin Rd
- #16, #40 – Meijer – Hamilton Rd & Citimark Dr (just north of Morse Rd)
- #18, #56 – Tuttle Crossing Mall
- #18, #61 – Carraige Place – Sawmill Rd & Bethel Rd
- #18, #61, #95 – Bethel Center – Bethel Rd & Godown Rd
- #29 – Polaris Fashion Place
- #35, #95 – Morse Centre – Morse Rd & Northtowne Blvd
- #43, #96 – Hunters Ridge Mall – Hamilton Rd & Rocky Fork Blvd (in Gahanna north of I-270)
- #44 – Eastpointe Shopping Center – E. Broad St & Reynoldsburg-New Albany Rd/Lancaster Ave
- #46, #92 – Eastland Mall
- #49 – Kroger – Groveport Rd & SR-317
- #60, #95 – Sear’s – Reed Rd & Henderson Rd