Dave Perry tried to do the right thing and take BART from the East Bay to San Francisco International Airport. But when he couldn't find a parking spot at the Dublin-Pleasanton station, he ended up driving, putting one more solo vehicle on the Bay Area's jammed freeways.

He's not alone. If you're trying to find a parking space at a BART station, good luck.

The scarcity of BART parking is the top gripe on Mr. Roadshow's complaint line this year, making it the first time a highway has not held the top spot in the dozen years the "Dirty Dozen" list has been compiled.

The BART issue surged past the No. 2 complaint -- the gridlock at the Highway 101-Interstate 880 interchange, where new carpool lanes seem to have backfired -- and No. 3, gaps in the carpool lane on I-680 from Highway 24 to the Benicia Bridge in Contra Costa County.

Highway 101 from one end of the bay to the other tumbled from No. 1 to No. 4. The loss of one lane on Hedding Street in San Jose to install a bicycle lane came in at No. 5, followed by the increasing delays on the San Mateo and Dumbarton bridges.

But it's BART that has most people squawking.

"Until parking can be improved in the East Bay, I wonder how many cars are in traffic because they have given up on mass transit due to the time and frustration involved with finding something as simple as a parking spot," Perry said.

Added Tim Fama, another frustrated BART rider: "Parking lots at East Bay stations in Walnut Creek, Lafayette, Orinda, Dublin and West Dublin usually fill up by 8 a.m. If you ever drive on Highway 24 around 8:30 a.m., the Lafayette and Orinda platforms are empty, which I believe is caused by a lack of parking. It stands to reason that if there were more parking at those stations, more people would take BART, eliminating more traffic."

As Bay Area roads approach gridlock, the numbers tell the story when it comes to demand for BART parking.

Riders make about 400,000 daily trips, and there are only 46,385 parking spots. But BART is not inclined to build a lot more.

"Why not build more parking?" asked BART spokesman James Allison. "Do we use land to build more parking, which is not only a money loser for BART but encourages driving, or do we consider ways to provide some parking but not necessarily a spot for every rider?"

BART has tried to ease the parking woes by offering monthly reserved parking permits. Permits guarantee riders a space in a designated reserved "Permit" area, as long as they arrive by 10 a.m. But of the 33 stations with reserved parking, all have waiting lists except for Millbrae and Daly City.

That leaves many drivers vying for non-reserved spots, and those fill up early -- in Fremont and West Oakland by 6:30 a.m.; at Walnut Creek and Fruitvale by 7 a.m.; at Castro Valley by 7:10 a.m.; and at Colma and South San Francisco by 7:30 a.m.

There is no major fix in the works, so transit officials recommend being dropped off by a spouse or friend, or traveling to a station by bicycle or bus.

Fixes have also been hard to come by for the Dirty Dozen's second-ranking trouble spot. A carpool lane was supposed to ease the jam from southbound I-880 to southbound 101 in San Jose. It hasn't.

"Southbound 880 around 5 p.m. is horrendous," said Babak Hirbod, of San Jose. "Now with the commute lanes, once they get to 101 south, they try to cut all four lanes at the last minute to get on the 101 south onramp. The result: mayhem."

There's also more mayhem on the bridges, where it's bumper-to-bumper almost every commute.

"The new normal" is how traffic reporters describe it.

And, of course, there is the griping heard year after year. The lack of a carpool lane on northbound I-680 over the Sunol Grade. The outdated interchange at I-580 and I-680. And Highway 101 from the South Bay to the North Bay.

"I hear complaints about seemingly all segments of 101 between Gilroy and Santa Rosa," said John Goodwin of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. "While the stretch between San Jose and SFO generates the most volume, there is no lack of passion in the North Bay."

It would help on a lot of these stretches if more people took BART. If only they could park there.

Contact Gary Richards at 408-920-5335.