Published: Mar 23, 2013 12:00 AM
Modified: Mar 23, 2013 05:51 PM
CHAPEL HILL - The Town Council could decide Monday night whether to start charging drivers $250 a year to use three public park-and-ride lots.
Chapel Hill Transit interim Director Brian Litchfield presented the plan to the council in January. It could raise roughly $150,000 a year for the cash-strapped transit system and also discourage UNC students and employees from using free public lots instead of buying UNC parking permits, he said.
UNC plans to start its sliding-scale park-and-ride fee at $227. It’s part of a five-year plan to cover a $6.5 million shortfall in the transportation and parking budget.
If the town follows suit, it would start charging a parking fee Aug. 15 at the Eubanks Road, Southern Village and Jones Ferry Road lots. Roughly three our of four drivers using those lots are going to UNC, Litchfield said. Other UNC permit holders drive from lot to lot to find a space, usually ending up in a public lot or on a neighborhood street, he said.
The university provides 2,258 spaces in six park-and-ride lots, plus roughly 14,500 permit spaces on campus.
The cost of creating the town’s fee-based system would be roughly $128,000 for signs, pay stations, part-time employees and to repaint the lots. The annual operating cost would be $69,000. Litchfield said the costs would absorb most of the revenue in the first two years.
Chapel Hill Transit’s Public Transit Committee endorsed the plan at its March 19 meeting.
Carrboro’s Board of Aldermen also has discussed UNC’s fee. Mayor Mark Chilton said it might force Carrboro down the same road and potentially force the Carrboro Plaza lot to close.
The transit system faces increased budget pressures next year from state and federal funding cuts, South Columbia Street construction detour costs and a need for new buses. The current $18.7 million budget comprises 67 percent local and 28 percent state and federal funding. Transit partners Chapel Hill, Carrboro and UNC contribute their shares based on population.