Some Montgomery County officials testified last night in favor of a plan to deal with a shortage of parking at the Grosvenor Metro station by raising the parking fee there, but opponents rejoined that "bad planning" was the real cause of the parking difficulties.
"I see no reason whatsoever to punish people who are less able to pay . . . because of bad planning and lack of foresight" by Metro, said Kirk Sheppard of Wheaton, one of 18 people who turned out for a public hearing before the Metro board in Rockville.
Officials from the county's Transportation Department and the county Planning Board testified in favor of raising the fee from $1 to $2 a day.
That increase would be intended to draw rush-hour commuters to the under-used White Flint station, located one mile north of Grosvenor, where the present $1-per-day parking fee would be eliminated on a trial basis.
Commuters flocking to the Grosvenor station on Metro's Red Line are filling its 617-space parking lot by 8 a.m. every day. At the White Flint station, a 930-space lot is rarely more than half filled, offcials said.
Although the stations are only a mile apart, Metro officials and commuters said there are strong, if unintended, incentives to use the Grosvenor station.
Rush-hour fares are 15 cents higher at the White Flint station because it is farther up the line. In addition, three-minute rush hour service ends at the Grosvenor station, which means commuters must wait twice as long to catch a rush-hour train at White Flint.
The Grosvenor parking lot also is more convenient to the station. At White Flint, the parking lot is located across Rockville Pike.
"They learn fast about those things, and they want the benefits, but that's the problem -- how many can flock to one station?" said Fairfax McCandlish, a Metro official.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority will make a final decision on whether to institute the new parking fees as scheduled from September until next June.
Parking would be free at White Flint from September until January.
After that a $1 fee would be reinstated, officials said.