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Train station parking fees might rise

CDTA projects $350,000 in additional revenue

Tuesday, January 22, 2013
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The Capital District Transportation Authority is proposing an increase in parking fees at the Rensselaer Rail Station, pictured here, and the Saratoga Springs Rail Station.
Photographer: Marc Schultz
The Capital District Transportation Authority is proposing an increase in parking fees at the Rensselaer Rail Station, pictured here, and the Saratoga Springs Rail Station.

— The Capital District Transportation Authority is considering increasing the rates for parking at its two train stations as part of its 2013-14 budget.

It will hold a public hearing on the plans, which will impact thousands of train riders each year in Rensselaer and Saratoga Springs, at the Albany Public Library on Tuesday.

Rates would go up in the garage and parking lots that already carry fees at the Rensselaer Rail Station, and a temporary special events parking fee at the Saratoga Springs station would be made permanent.

The Rensselaer parking rate structure would rise by $1 or $2 under the proposal. The new rates, officials said, would be comparable to what people now pay for parking at Albany International Airport or the Empire State Plaza.

The daily rate for the parking garage would rise from $10 to $12; Lot A would increase from $7 to $8; and Lot B would increase from $6 to $7. Parking in the lots will cost $2 for the first hour; the first hour has been free.

Short-term parking in the small lot right outside the main station entrance will remain free.

The proposed weekly rate for the garage is $50, up from $40; $35 for Lot A, up from $30; and $30 for Lot B, up from $25.

The proposed increases are expected to bring in about $350,000 in additional revenue. The additional money raised will be used for repairs, maintenance and other costs of operating the parking facilities, CDTA officials said.

The Rensselaer station, the ninth-busiest Amtrak station in the United States, has 1,300 parking spots, said CDTA spokeswoman Margo Janack.

The authority is also proposing making permanent its “special event” parking charge for the Saratoga Springs train station. Parking had been free at all times, but under a pilot program, CDTA charged $5 per vehicle for parking during the popular Polar Express train’s run during the 2012 Christmas season.

That lot has 85 spaces, which have been filled to overflowing during the twice-an-evening runs of the Polar Express.

The pilot program generated $12,000 in revenue for CDTA, even though the Saratoga & North Creek Railroad, which runs the “Polar Express,” offered a free shuttle bus to alternate parking at Saratoga Springs High School.

Janack said the permanent special-event fee could apply during other special events, though the Polar Express runs are probably the biggest.

“It helps minimize congestion,” she said.

The current proposal would make the fee permanent as of April 1, when the 2013-14 budget year begins. It would not apply to people parking at the station to ride Amtrak. During special events, the lot would be staffed by employees checking who are Amtrak customers.

The public hearing will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Albany Public Library’s main branch, 161 Washington Ave., Albany. At the hearing, CDTA staff will make a presentation on the proposed rate increases and accept public comment.

The proposals will require approval from the CDTA board of directors.

The public may also email comments to cdta@cdta.org or mail comments to: Rail Station Parking Rate Restructure, Marketing Department, 110 Watervliet Ave., Albany, NY 12206.

Comments will be accepted through Feb. 3.

 
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