Commentary: Dysfunctional Parking

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, June 23, 2006

I've been ranting about this lot for months.  Most of what I report comes from train riders.  But this week I took the train to Berkeley and experienced it myself. It's worse than I thought.

 I arrived about 7:15 in the morning, pressed the button, and a flimsy ticket, kind of like a grocery receipt, is dispensed.  I returned at 7 in the evening and went directly to the office of Platinum Parking, the private operator of the lot.  I stood in line with a dozen passengers to buy a discount coupon. After presenting both the stub from my train ticket and the parking ticket I'd picked up that morning, the single Platinum employee there sold me a discount ticket for $6.50. He then explained to each bewildered customer in line how to operate the automatic pre-pay machine.First the original ticket is scanned into it. A price pops up behind a glass screen -  very hard to see when the sun hits it.  If you can see it, press  "validation." Scan the discount coupon and a third ticket is dispensed. This is then scanned into yet another machine to exit the lot. It is the dumbest system I have ever experienced.

Sacramento's Train Depot is a major transportation hub for the region. Its parking lot is dysfunctional. The city needs to buy the lot and operate it in the interest of the public.


Ginger Rutland writes for the Sacramento Bee Opinion pages.