How much parking is enough?

An article about Union Station in Washington, DC caught our attention this week. We are so used to hearing about complaints of the lack of parking in developments that it is surprising to see the opposite reaction.

The Station was designed in 1908 and is in need of an upgrade to meet current accessibility standards and cater to future demand whilst preserving its historical context. Plans to revitalise the site include the addition of a mixed-use development and changes to the parking provision.

Planners and stakeholders involved in the project are concerned with the huge number of parking spaces involved (1,600 spaces!). The  DC Office of Planning Director Andrew Trueblood recommended between 299 and 375 spaces for this development, according to Greater Greater Washington.

Although the proposal is to reduce the current 2,200 spaces, the discussion is around the fact that a transit oriented development comprising a station that serves 37 million visitors per year should be focusing on disincentivising car reliance.

We discussed during the Melbourne Commuter Car Park Forum last year the importance of the location of car parks serving transit hubs as a crucial factor for the success of the transport network as a whole. Parking spaces should be provided to assist those users located outside transit rich areas to reach the closest transport nodes. Furthermore, they should be located outside CBDs to avoid unnecessary increase of traffic volumes and congestion.

There is no magic formula to determine the right amount of parking spaces for every development. It requires careful consideration of aspects such as future demand, existing supply within the vicinity of the development, plans for the area, etc. Nevertheless, it is possible to say that providing too much parking can be an extremely costly mistake, on many levels.

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