Carrboro could soon be the latest to pass a fee for the use of its park-and-ride lots, potentially resulting in the loss of a lot in Carrboro Plaza.
On Wednesday, the Chapel Hill Town Council passed a minimum annual fee of $250 for the use of town park-and-ride lots.
October 2012: UNC decided to implement a fee for its nine park-and-ride lots starting in the 2013-14 academic year.
March 19: Chapel Hill’s public transit committee endorsed the proposed fee for town lots.
March 25: The Chapel Hill Town Council debated and delayed a decision on the fee.
April 10: The Chapel Hill Town Council passed a minimum annual fee of $250.
The fee will go into effect Aug. 15.
Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton said although he doesn’t think the Board of Aldermen wants to implement the same fee on its two lots — located at Carrboro Plaza and Jones Ferry Road — it is likely to pass.
“I think we’ve been feeling for a while in Carrboro that we are going to have to do the same thing,” he said.
Last year, UNC approved a park-and-ride fee on University-owned lots. The decision led Chapel Hill Transit to recommend that all local lots do the same.
Chapel Hill Transit comprises the towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro and the University.
Chilton said that after the University’s decision to implement the fee, Carrboro aldermen realized they had no other option.
“Most park-and-ride lots are owned by the University and under University control,” he said. “What it really boils down to is what they decide to do.”
Chilton said if only some of the local park and ride lots have a fee, drivers will just fill up the other free lots. The fee on Chapel Hill Transit-owned park-and-ride lots will generate about $150,000 annually.
Brian Litchfield, Chapel Hill Transit interim director, said the revenue from the fee will help to offset the cost of transit service.
“We’ve talked about this and the partners to the transit system have all agreed to implement the park-and-ride fee,” he said.
But Chilton said if Carrboro chooses to implement the fee, it might mean the end of the park-and-ride lot at Carrboro Plaza, because the owners of the plaza may not agree to the fee.
Carrboro Plaza is on private property in Carrboro, and its park-and-ride lot is leased by the town of Chapel Hill.
Chilton said the owners of the lot may not want to charge a fee because drivers will start parking in other nearby lots.
“They’ll just park in the spots that are meant to be Food Lion and the paint store and everything else, and that is just not going to be acceptable to the people who own Carrboro Plaza,” he said.
But Litchfield said negotiations between Chapel Hill Transit and Carrboro Plaza owners are still underway.
Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said he understands the necessity of Chapel Hill’s fee but is concerned about creating a transportation obstacle.
“I’m afraid we’re creating a disincentive for people to use transit,” Kleinschmidt said.
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