Metro's "park 'n' ride" facilities at the New Carrollton station, over-crowded since shortly after opening last November, have been swamped anew in recent weeks by fuel-short commuters seeking a place to park.
The parking crush has been so great that even before the recent gasoline shortage irate commuters were crashing their cars through automatic gates and parking illegally everywhere from access road to nearby fields.
An average of five gate arms per week have been shattered at New Carrollton alone in the last six months, Metro transit analyst Frank McNulty said yesterday.
Between June 3 and June 18, 324 parking citations were issued by Metro police at the New Carrollton and Landover stations, Metro spokesman Cody Pfanstiehl said yesterday.
Greenville resident Ralph Bartels, 25, said he's had five $10 parking tickets in the last two weeks for illegally parking his car in the New Carrollton lot.
Currently, New Carrollton parking facilities have a 1,700-vehicle capacity, Landover can handle 916 vehicles, and Cheverly has slots for 466 cars, Metro spokesman Marilyn Dicus said Thursday.
"For the past three or four months, I've had to violate the law just to ride Metro," said Steve Katsanos of Annapolis, a reporter for the D.C.-based Environment Reporter.
Katsanos returned to the New Carrollton station Thursday night to find a $10 pink parking ticket flapping on his cars winshield. "I was so fed up I decided not to go to work," Katsanos said yesterday. "I figured I'd paid my dues this week."
Metro officials acknowledged the parking problem at the three stations. At a Metro Board Budget Committee meeting yesterday morning, they recommended that portions of the New Carrollton lots be redesigned for small cars in order to create more spaces.
McNulty said yesterday that sections of the Landover and New Carrollton lots are already being striped to create more slots. About 161 new parking slots will become available at New Carrollton by next week, while 84 new spaces will be created at Landover, McNulty said.
Another 200 spaces are currently under construction at New Carrollton and should be available by the end of August, McNulty said.
"We've got a lousy operation at New Carrollton and something's got to happen real quickly," said Ken Duncan, chief administrative officer of Prince George's County. CAPTION: Picture, Two illegally parked cars illustrate crowded conditions at the New Carrollton Metro parking lot. By Fred Sweets - The Washington Post