Ferry officials are considering charging a $65 monthly fee for "premium" parking spaces at the Larkspur terminal to help cut a five-year, $87 million deficit the Golden Gate Bridge district is facing.
The one-year pilot program would designate 160 spaces -- 10 percent of the lot -- as premium spots. The spaces could be located closer to the dock for a shorter walk or near the exit to allow a more rapid departure.
"Getting out faster is what people seem to want," said Mary Currie, district spokeswoman. "But it could also include a row of parking spots closer to the ferry itself. It is still being looked at and being developed."
The matter will be considered at 10 a.m. Thursday by the district Transportation Committee at the bridge district's Administration Building.
Under the proposed program, individual spots are not guaranteed, but there would be designated areas for parkers who pay. The parking would be exclusive until 10 a.m. After that they would be open -- free of charge -- to the general public.
Implementation details are not final and officials plan to tweak the plan based on comments from the public. A start date is also up in the air, but it wouldn't start sooner than July 1.
"It's hard to commit to a date," said Ron Downing, director of planning for the district. "We have to determine what kind of system we will use to issue the permits. We do have a strategic plan to address the overall budget and we have an obligation to look at those strategies and that's why we are beginning the process now."
The program is expected to bring in about $125,000 a year.
Two ferry rider focus groups were convened last summer to chew on ideas for pay parking. Most of those who participated opposed a $2 daily parking charge for all riders because of the time that would be needed to pay at a kiosk before getting on the ferry. That plan would have netted the district closer to $1 million annually.
"When we talked about this premium parking to the focus groups, they felt like they were getting something in return and it was much more acceptable," Downing said. "It's a pilot program. We will put it out there and see how it works."
Payments will likely be through online advance purchases and not at the terminal. Only a flat monthly fee would be available, regardless of whether the designated parking areas are used every day.
Many transit agencies, including BART, charge for parking, Currie noted. The proposal only addresses parking at the Larkspur terminal, not Sausalito.
At one time the district had planned to build a $20 million four-story, 969-space parking garage at the ferry terminal, but money is not available. The ferry system carries about 2 million passengers annually.
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