Parking problems intensify around light rail stations as more riders hop on

TUKWILA, Wash. — Sound Transit riders told KIRO 7 that since two new stations opened this month, they have had more difficulty finding parking near light rail stations.

Deborah Johnson, who typically parks her car on the street near Stadium station, said she had to pay $8 to park in a private lot Tuesday morning.

"I guess people are coming in earlier, because now I come in about 7:30-ish, nowhere to park," Johnson said.
Michelle Burge said she always parks in a private, paid lot near Mt. Baker station. While her experience hasn't changed much, she has noticed a difference on the streets.

“I’ve noticed a lot more cars parked around Mt. Baker station,” Burge said.

But perhaps the most noticeable difference is at the Tukwila light rail station, where both the regular and overflow lots are filling up by 6:30 a.m.

Molly West, a relative of a KIRO employee, said she typically gets one of 10 or 15 spaces left in the overflow lot at 6:30 a.m. But Tuesday morning, she found zero.

Other drivers were in the same position.

“It was a bunch of ants in an anthill,” West said.

To avoid being late for work, she drove to another location and took the bus downtown.

Bruce Gray, a spokesperson for Sound Transit, said there have been 10,000 to 20,000 new riders in the first week since the Capitol Hill and University of Washington stations opened. Numbers are expected to rise now that university students are back from spring break.

He said the Tukwila parking lots have always filled up early. But the situation may improve when the new Angle Lake station opens at South 200th Street in SeaTac this September. That station will come with more than 1,000 parking spots.

There are also plans to build a garage of 1,500 spaces when East Link opens. When the Northgate station comes online, riders will share the existing park-and-ride of 1,200 parking spots.

“You’re never going to build enough parking for everybody who wants to ride the system. Like I said, we’re adding a million new riders a year. Are we going to spend the money to build a million new parking spots a year? That’s not the most effective way to spend the money,” Gray said.

There are no plans to build any parking lots or garages near the Seattle core. Instead, Gray suggests riders get dropped off, ride a bike, or find other public transportation to get to the stations.

Tell Sound Transit what you think of their draft plan for the next phase of expansion here.