Full park-and-ride lot forces choices
August 31, 2010 · Updated 11:56 AM
When the Mercer Island Park-and-Ride expansion began, my husband jokingly said it’s the nicest thing we’ve ever done for Bellevue and Issaquah. It turned out that he was right.
During the year-long renovation, temporary park-and-ride lots were set up around the Island. I tried to use these lots, but it added 45 minutes to my commute. Here were my choices:
1) Pay for 90 extra minutes of child care at $15/hour, for a total of $810 for the year (I work three days per week).
2) Pay $140 per month to park in my building, for a total of $1,680 for the year.
I chose more time with my kids. The park-and-ride expansion cost me $1,680 versus my subsidized $432 bus pass, for a grand total of $1,248. I am sure others have similar stories.
Poor service from the South end of Mercer Island forces bus commuters to drive to the North end park-and-ride. It is great to have a bus every 10 minutes to and from downtown to Mercer Island, but then you’re stuck at the North end park-and-ride for sometimes 30 minutes trying to get to the South end. For some, this means paying extra child care while you wait around for a bus.
It is frustrating to be forced to compete with the Issaquah and Bellevue commuters for a spot at the park-and-ride. If you work 9-6:30, forget it — it is already full.
Bringing light rail to Mercer Island would be a disaster. The only way you will encourage commuters to take the light rail from the Eastside (Bellevue, Issaquah) is if the light rail does not stop on Mercer Island.
Keep the light rail stops at the park-and-ride lots like Eastgate, where there are 1,614 parking spaces, and let the Mercer Island folks take the bus downtown.