Dodging Parking Fees!

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Blackwolf

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Nov 12, 2011
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Like anyone else these days, avoiding unnecessary costs associated with travel is a pretty good idea. And lets face it, one of the most annoying and costly of these can be parking at a major station.

My home station of Sacramento has become no different. It used to be free to park at the station many years ago, and then it became a modest $2 a day... Until the lot itself was turned over to the City of Sacramento for management. Things went downhill from there... They jacked it to $6 a day, and upped it two years ago to $9. Head out of town on the train for a week and suddenly you've handed over more than $60!! In return, you get a tiny parking spot barely big enough for your car and the ones next to it, which means door dings at the least. Not to mention, vandalism and break-ins are common at SAC, in the spots beneath the I-5 overpass and near the Railroad Museum.

What is one to do!?

If it is available to you, take transit. Did that on my last trip; took a cab to the nearest lightrail station and rode RT's Gold Line to SAC. It worked well enough, but some fellow passengers on the lightrail were annoyed with the baggage. I saved $130 from parking fees by doing this (was out of town for two weeks.)

The next one I'm going to attempt is departing from a different station. Right now, we leave on #14 from SAC to PDX on the 10th of January and return on #11 on the 17th; sleeper both ways. Since #14 has a horrible habit of being late into SAC, and would leave at midnight if it were on-time anyhow, heading one station earlier to Davis is on my radar. The parking there is FREE, the lot is a great deal more secure, and there are a lot of close-by bars/restaurants to spend the time waiting for the train in instead of the station. Not to mention, the station is much more intimate, has full services like checked baggage still, and there is not the hike out to the platforms like at SAC.

It'll cost me and my wife $30 extra to buy coach tickets from Davis to Sacramento and back, then occupy our sleeper in SAC as per the original reservation. Depending on the OBS crew, we just might be able to occupy our room to/from Davis too!

So, what have you or are you doing to avoid paying for parking on your travels?
 

Anderson

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Nov 16, 2010
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RVR-WAS on Amtrak cuts the per-day cost for parking from $22 to $5. There's also a dirty secret: The Meteor, if on time, arrives before the parking attendant does. If it's late SB, it arrives after the guy leaves for the evening (he leaves around 2230 and I believe arrives around 0500 or 0530), so you can't pay for parking and they just let you out.

The only time I drive to WAS is if I'm going to MTR, though even there I might start forcing a multi-city RVR-WAS-NYP-MTR ticket in the future. That's a tough call...NB, it works fine, but SB it's a real dog.
 

yarrow

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Feb 25, 2006
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at the spokane station i think it is still $4 a day. but that adds up on a long trip. we try to have someone drop us off and pick us up. extra gas and wear and tear to drop us and come get us but somehow it feels less than the parking fee (unless it is just a 2 or 3 day trip)
 

OlympianHiawatha

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Feb 7, 2008
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Kansas City Union Station charges confiscatory parking fees ($10 per day last time I was there) but if you somehow "lose" your ticket, the fee defaults to $10 flat! At the end of a 10 day run, sure enough I lost my ticket and simply pushed LOST TICKET on the console which then only charged $10 to raise the gate and let me on my way with $90 to spare.
 

roadman3313

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Oct 21, 2012
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I usually just drive to Davis. Only issue is M-F the parking usually fills up by the 6:35am CC to the Bay Area. I used to take that (or train 11 if I wanted breakfast) to get to work in the morning at EMY. My 10-ride is still from SAC just in case I get dropped off there but if you travel outside of the weekday morning peak, spaces tend to open up in the early to mid afternoon. Just be sure to get a parking permit from the agent if you will be keeping your car there anytime M-F and you should be good to go.

They also have EV spaces for those who have Electric Vehicles. When I lived in Davis I just took tranist (Unitrans) to the station. Alas I stay up in North/West Natomas now where the transit options to Downtown Sacramento are rather limited outside the preak.

So in your case I'd suggest Davis... if you can't change your Reservation for there you can check the options including what you suggested.

As for other stations there are options... Santa Barbara (SBA) for example charges but the attendants are only there during the daytime and early evening hours. If you arrive on the bus or later trains the gate will sometimes just be up as the booth won't be staffed. You can pretty much exit and be on your way without having paid the parking fee.

I generally look at Transit Options first. If that doesn't work I look for stations nearby (such as the SAC/DAV example) to park at if I really need to drive.
 

the_traveler

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Nov 14, 2007
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If push came to shove, I would do the same myself!

My home station of KIN has a large free parking lot, so it does not affect me. However the next station north on the NEC (PVD) has paid parking. If that was my choice, I'd gladly drive the 30-45 minutes between PVD andKIN to save $50 in parking fees. (The only exception is if you were taking Acela. AE does not stop in KIN, but every Regîonal does.)
 

roadman3313

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Another side note... parking in Davis also is nice when train 14 is late (I sometimes take it home from EMY if I miss the last CC)... saves time getting home as the walk from the station to the platform in SAC also adds on another 5-15 minutes depending on how fast you walk. Usually am driving alongside the train (until it zips on past) crossing the causeway so I'm already at home about the time it arrives in SAC if not shortly thereafter.
 

tomfuller

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Oct 24, 2012
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Did you ever consider the YOLO bus between SAC and Davis? http://www.yolobus.com/routes/index.php/43

I have on occasion arrived on #11 early in the morning and taken the YOLO bus out to the airport to rent a car before any of the in town rental agencies are open.

I did pay nearly $100 for parking in Spokane while we took the EB east and returned 13 days later.

Parking is free at KFS but you need a parking pass from the ticket agent. Parking is free at Chemult.(CMO)
 

NAVYBLUE

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Nov 22, 2011
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Last year for Christmas back east we left truck at garage next to LAUS ($6/day) for 30 days. This year we took the CZ-CL from RNO-WAS. Drove from Las Vegas to Reno and stayed the night @ Harrah's across the street from the station. I had a True Rewards casino card that is the players card (FREE) for casino properties owned by Caesars Entertainment Corp in Las Vegas, Reno, Atalntic City, etc.

You can pick one up for free at Harrahs Reno. It is a 6-7 hour drive from Vegas to Reno so I needed a place for the night and Harrahs was $23/night Sunday-Thursday for anyone even if you didn't have a casino card. I asked before I left from Las Vegas if I could leave my truck in their garage while back east. They said sure and when I get there contact the hotel manager and give her my truck info, parking spot number and name/phone number and they would have security keep an eye on it when they make their rounds.

I was going to have to stay somewhere for the night so I guess that's about as close to FREE as you can get. The front desk, restaurant, bell captain, valet, craps table personnel were very nice to everyone that I observed and though an older casino it was in fairly decent shape and food was not overly expensive.

And it is only a (3) minute walk from the Virginia St entrance to the AMTRAK station. And I could watch the freights and the daily CZ coming through Reno on the below street level tracks they built to avoid holding up Reno city traffic. I could see them from my East tower room.

NAVYBLUE
 
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FrensicPic

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We park in the L.A. Union Station east lot (Flyaway)...$6 a day. About the same or better than parking for a cruise.
 

zephyr17

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Jul 22, 2009
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Seattle has expensive parking around, not at, the station. Edmonds has a park 'n ride lot now that they patrol aggressively for parking violations because it is right by the ferry dock and you cannot park overnight there.

If going on the Empire Builder, I get on at Everett which has free long-term parking. If going south on the Starlight, I have been known to park at Tacoma (and gotten my car broken into) which also has free parking.
 
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leemell

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Oct 5, 2009
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[snip]

And it is only a (3) minute walk from the Virginia St entrance to the AMTRAK station. And I could watch the freights and the daily CZ coming through Reno on the below street level tracks they built to avoid hoding up Reno city traffic. I could see them from my East tower room.

NAVYBLUE
Actually, several years ago (before the trench) we were in the dining car when we stopped in an intersection looking right at a driver at the front of the line while we ate lunch. It seemed we were there for about ten minutes. We sure were glad we were in the train and not the car! :giggle:
 
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leemell

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We use the Van Nuys station when heading north or south rather than LAUS because it is closer and has free parking that is patrolled almost continuously.
 

NAVYBLUE

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Nov 22, 2011
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[snip]

And it is only a (3) minute walk from the Virginia St entrance to the AMTRAK station. And I could watch the freights and the daily CZ coming through Reno on the below street level tracks they built to avoid hoding up Reno city traffic. I could see them from my East tower room.

NAVYBLUE
Actually, several years ago (before the trench) we were in the dining car when we stopped in an intersection looking right at a driver at the front of the line while we ate lunch. It seemed we were there for about ten minutes. We sure were glad we were in the train and not the car! :giggle:
My neighbor in North Las Vegas lived in Reno for about (15) years until he fled to Vegas to retire and run from the cold which is funny as he lived in MN for (35) years.

He said before they built the trench, when freights came through they held up 10-12 north/south downtown streets as freight crawled through downtown Reno eastbound or westbound. He said there was a lot of oppostion to the trench do to the cost to the county.

NAVYBLUE
 

dlagrua

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Nov 24, 2009
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IMO parking costs are an impediment to rail travel. The NEC is the worst. Take for instance PHL . They have a large multi-story lot but the cost is a whopping $25.00 per day! I wonder who the greedy creeps were that came up with this price? There are some private lots in the ares but still the cost is in the $20 range. I've come to the conclusion that parking lot owners are all crazy.

At Metropark Iselin the fee is $5.00 per day but if you don't get there by 8AM the place is always sold out, plus only the NEC trains stop there. No long distance service is offered.

At NYP you'll be lucky to find parking in the area at $38-$65.00 per day. BAL ($22 day) and WAS ($20 day) chargexorbitantlyly high prices as well. As a result we just drive to places outside the NEC area and pick up the train there. Next trip for us to CHI leaves from Harpers Ferry. There is a 700 car lot there run by the National Park service where you can park just for park admission. I guess we will just have to live with driving a few hours for an overnight trip. There is no other solution that we can think of.
 
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JayPea

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Sep 9, 2006
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at the spokane station i think it is still $4 a day. but that adds up on a long trip. we try to have someone drop us off and pick us up. extra gas and wear and tear to drop us and come get us but somehow it feels less than the parking fee (unless it is just a 2 or 3 day trip)
It's still $4/day in Spokane. I don't have any choice but to pay that because I live an hour away and don't want to ask anyone to take me to the station, especially at the hours the EB runs in Spokane. Still a lot cheaper than parking at the Spokane airport.
 

Devil's Advocate

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Until the lot itself was turned over to the City of Sacramento for management.
Whose decision was that?

Not to mention, the station is much more intimate, has full services like checked baggage still, and there is not the hike out to the platforms like at SAC.
People of Sacramento, this is hiking...



People of Sacramento, this is not hiking...



So, what have you or are you doing to avoid paying for parking on your travels?
Not much you can do in San Antonio. We are now back to ZERO parking spaces for Amtrak customers near the station. There are some parking lots nearby but so far as I am currently aware they do not allow parking for Amtrak customers at any price. The closest parking lots are across the freeway further downtown where the average cost is about $15-20 per day last time I checked. In theory you could find cheaper lots on the fringes of the area, but then you'd be worrying about theft and vandalism. You'd also need to add a taxi ride to get back to the station from those lots and now you're back to where you started. Basically Amtrak has nowhere to park for their San Antonio customers. It doesn't matter if it's for a week or a day or an hour. They don't seem to notice or care that this is a major impediment to using their service. You want more folks to ride the once-in-a-while Sunset Limited? Give them a place to park at a reasonable price. Many of our trains arrive at hours that are not easy for requesting pickups or drop-offs from others. Taxis in this town are absurdly expensive for a city that suffers from this much suburban sprawl. Combine the zero parking space situation, the SL's new worse schedule, and AGR's "take it or leave it" attitude, and you have a major set of disincentives to riding Amtrak for members from San Antonio.

Kansas City Union Station charges confiscatory parking fees ($10 per day last time I was there) but if you somehow "lose" your ticket, the fee defaults to $10 flat! At the end of a 10 day run, sure enough I lost my ticket and simply pushed LOST TICKET on the console which then only charged $10 to raise the gate and let me on my way with $90 to spare.
I suppose this is what you have to expect when you name your thread "Dodging Parking Fees!"
 

Ryan

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Apr 14, 2008
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BWI Rail station is $9/day.

Odenton is free, but only works if you're leaving/returning on a weekday.
 

amamba

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Jun 11, 2008
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PVD is only $8/day. I think that is very reasonable considering it is a covered and secured lot. The only issue is that you have to get there before 7 am if you are leaving on a weekday, otherwise it is full with commuters.

I think it is pretty awful to push lost ticket after parking somewhere for 9 days and shirking the fee. The parking fee most likely pays for maintaining the structure. If it is part of the rails station, it might also cover things like the janitorial service (clean bathrooms!) and other amenities at the train station.

I am so sick and tired of everyone thinking that they don't have to pay for services that they use in this country.
 

Bob Dylan

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My home Station (AUS) has Free, Lighted Parking in the UP Lot (Amtrak Pax and UP Crews use it)but there are Signs that have the usual Disclaimer about UP/Amtrak is Not Responsible for any Damage/Loss of Property etc. Before Austin started becoming Gentrified, there was a Large Homeless Campgrounds next to the Tracks Past the Station and there were breakins and Damge to Vehicles, but now they are building High Dollar Condos next to the Tracks and the Cops Patrol Regularly! I've parked there as Long as 3 weeks with No Problems! I can also drive to Taylor (First Stop on #22 North), a Major UP Yard and 24 HourCrew Change Spot (and Bar-Q-Mecca! :wub: ) and Park for Free with the same Set Up!

I agree that Theft of Services is just that, being Honest is just like being Pregnant, you either Are!, or You Aren't!!! ;)
 
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AmtrakBlue

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I am so sick and tired of everyone thinking that they don't have to pay for services that they use in this country.
:)
I got our Christmas tree for free and it was legitmate as far as I could tell, but since I found that particular tree seller via an organization that was supposed to benefit from the tree sales, I sent the orginazation the money I would have spent on the tree.

We went to the place late Saturday afternoon when it was blustery and cold. When we got there, there were about 10 trees lined up against a fence, but no one was around. We went into the store that the trees were behind and asked the salesman if they tree people were around. He said they had left a few minutes before we got there and told him to tell anyone who asked to go ahead and take any tree they wanted. I had a "coupon" from the organization for $5 off and, like I said, this organization was supposed to benefit from the tree sale (the sellers were "Trees for a Cause"). I sent the cost of the tree minus the $5 to the organization and told them what transpired and told them they could do what the wanted with the money (maybe give the tree guys the appropriate portion or keep it all themselves).

Now, I'm sure there have been times I've "taken advantage" of some free or low cost "mistakes", but generally not without at least trying to rectify the situation.
 

Blackwolf

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Until the lot itself was turned over to the City of Sacramento for management.
Whose decision was that?
Probably the Union Pacific Railroad. Considering that the station grounds were once railroad property, and is part of the large former Southern Pacific Sacramento Rail Yards, all but the ROW was sold to the city for pennies on the dollar. The city just translated the tourist lot fee they were charging for the Old Town garage across the street over to the station lot. The system used for paying fees uses numbered spaces, which you much remember, and then enter into an automated validation machine. There are two (marginally working) machines on each side of the station entrance. You enter your space number, estimate how long you're going to be occupying the space (hourly or daily; $1.50 an hour up to the maximum of $9 per day) and then enter your payment documents (cash/credit.) A ticket is printed that you keep as proof of payment. The machines are linked to an overall network which has records of which spaces have been paid for, and with an expiration timestamp associated. Sacramento City Parking Enforcement heavily patrols the lot, usually once every 30 minutes, and uses a handheld meter device that is updated in real-time on which spaces are legally occupied. Tickets are costly, and like all municipal parking agencies, dealing with the meter maid is like talking to a brick wall in China. A broken validation machine is not an excuse. If both machines are out of order, the city expects you to leave and find another lot with a working machine, even if said lot is blocks away.

But, I guess we still have parking options, unlike San Antonio.

People of Sacramento, this is hiking...

People of Sacramento, this is not hiking...
I'm a definitive expert on hiking. Do it for a living. I hike more than 99.9% of the American populous. But in slang terminology, the hike at SAC can still be used as a measure between other local stations. Especially ones like Davis, with the tracks only 20 feet from the station waiting room.

I suppose this is what you have to expect when you name your thread "Dodging Parking Fees!"
Yup! I'm not swindling anyone when choosing my options. I can pay the higher fees at SAC, use transit to get back and forth between my house and the station (it takes an hour on the bus/lightrail vs. 13 minutes to drive) or just go to a place like Davis and still have access to every single train that serves SAC and not pay for parking at all (though, there are far fewer parking spaces available at the peak commute hours.)

And in the case of 'loosing' your ticket in Kansas City? Sounds like that is more the fault of who ever manages the lot than the people who are willing to take the easy way out. Usually loosing your ticket at a gate-style lot means a penalty rate many times higher than what you would normally be charged. Just saying....
 
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