Commuter Spots Available — But Watch Those Signs!

An alert, ticketed — and ticked-off — “06880” reader writes:

I’ve been a railroad parking permit holder for 20 years. Today I got a ticket because I couldn’t find a spot in a permit lot.

The town has changed the lot by Exit 17 from being permit-only to daily parking only.

I don’t get it. I pay for my permit, yet when I catch a later train (9 a.m. today), I get stuck with a daily fee ticket?

When I went to the police station, I was told that having a permit does not mean you get a space. It strikes me that the town is forcing permit holders who come later in the morning to pay twice to park: once for the permit, then for the daily fee. Do I have this right?

Not exactly. I contacted Foti Koskinas, Westport’s police chief who also administers railroad parking.

train station parking

He says that the police monitor parking spots every day. There has never been “no parking” for permit holders. In fact, he says, Lot 3 — on the south side of the tracks — has 75 to 100 spaces open every day.

What the department has done is change some of the parking distribution. After taking surveys and watching traffic patters, they realized that the limited number of $5 daily parking spots in each lot caused daily parkers to drive from lot to lot, searching for them.

Now, 2 lots — #4 and #8, one on each side of the tracks — are dedicated solely to $5 daily parking.

By parking in one of those lots — when permit places were available elsewhere — the “06880” reader took a spot away from a daily parker. That’s why he got a ticket, Foti says.

“Just because you have a permit, that doesn’t mean you can park anywhere,” he emphasizes. “We have 6,000 to 8,000 commuters a day. There’s a real science to this.”

In other railroad parking news, new lights will be installed Friday.

Commuter parking, circa 1949.

Commuter parking, circa 1949.

15 responses to “Commuter Spots Available — But Watch Those Signs!

  1. I appreciate the new rules. Totally fair and make sense big picture.

  2. Glad to learn of this here and not when hustling to catch a train. For “visual learners” here’s the new map: http://www.westportct.gov/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=9950

    • Bruce Schneider

      Per my other comment on this article, the map is incorrect in that it indicates the spaces that I spoke of as permit. I guess Railroad parking needs a new map.

  3. Robert Mitchell

    Lot 1, the permit lot, now has a row of spots reserved for electric cars until 11:00 AM, clearly marked by signs. Yesterday at 9:30 AM there were two cars in the row. You guessed it: both gas guzzlers.

  4. Plenty of spots on the outbound side every morning. Come on over!

    In other parking news, a friend received a ticket the other day when parked at the Saugatuck station lot. Not because she didn’t have an annual parking pass or because she was incorrectly parked in the $5 lot — the ticket was issued because her valid parking pass sticker was on the wrong side of the windshield (driver’s side and not passenger side). She spoke with the parking attendant, who said that she’d continue to be ticketed each day until she moved the sticker to the proper side of the windshield.

  5. Dick Lowenstein

    And if you’re 65 and over, you’re entitled to park free in a daily space twice a month. Just contact the Railroad Parking Division at Police HQ, 203-342-6052.

  6. I also got a ticket for parking in lot 8 w a parking permit. I had been parking there for years but was totally unaware of the change. The changes are fine but poor communications by the town. They should have alerted folks through Dan’s blog a week before the change was made.

  7. While I am not unfamiliar with the frustration associated with railroad parking (having been a permit holder in the past, and now an infrequent daily parker) I will say that the first week when they introduced the new arrangement (notably removing daily parking from alongside the tracks in the outbound lot), there were big electronic signs and on-site policemen positioned to help alert users to the new changes, in addition to the new permanent signage advising of which type of user (permit-holder or daily parker) could park in the respective lots

  8. So, if permit parkers aren’t guaranteed a space, then why not let anyone in Westport but a permit, assuming only a certain number will use the lot on a daily basis? Kind of like beach stickers. It makes no sense to have a 3 year “waiting list” for people who live in town.

  9. Oops, that should read “buy a permit” not “but a permit.”

  10. As others have noted, the South side of the train station always has a surplus of parking spots. Lot 8 (the one up by the highway) has had a red sign posted at the entrance of the lot that clearly states “No Permit Parking” since the change. Also, the “ticket” that one would get if they park in a “Daily Fee” parking spot is just the daily fee, not a more expensive parking violation. The town has done a great job accommodating the commuters that have a permit throughout the construction process and after. If people do not read the signs posted, no amount of assistance can fix that.

    Also, FYI, Metro-North Just announced the new schedules take effect this weekend. That is only a few days notice. Will everyone complain when their train arrives at a new time on Monday and miss it? Probably. It is all part of commuting. No need to assign blame to others for every perceived inconvenience.

  11. Bruce Schneider

    For the past few weeks, I have been parking in lot #2 along the fence of the private lot This morning after I parked my car and got out, I noticed that the sign that said Permit Parking 7AM-3PM was taped over and there was a sandwich sign indicating daily parking. Note: I don’t believe that this row was available to permit parking before the lot was redone and there was actually a traffic agent a couple of weeks ago directing people to these “new” permit spaces.

    Commuters are creatures of habit. We stand in the same place on the platform and tend to sit in the same car each way. At 6AM in the morning, who needs a change with poor communication on where you can park? Had I not noticed the change and told two others that didn’t notice, all three of us would have gotten tickets. Not for nothing, why a change now and why no traffic agent directing permit holders away from these spaces.

    Tonight it will be interesting to watch those that didn’t see the change get home and find their tickets. Note to Railroad Parking: You could run over and remove the tickets and instead put fliers noting the change under the wiper.

  12. I have a bunch of unpaid parking tickets because of ambiguous signs. I am a daily parker ..go into the city once every couple of months. One ticket was on a holiday because I misunderstood the sign. I really think I am reading the signs properly but now I have forgotten the story behind each of my misunderstandings.It’s very frustrating. I think they need a sign do-over. I’m so paranoid now that I call former clients and relatives who live nearby and just walk.

  13. Robert Gilmore

    With the new changes, daily parking has now been relegated to two lots further away from the station, making it an even longer walk each morning for those of us who have to pony up every day. My wife and I applied for a parking permit approximately 6 years ago and never heard a word. I’ve now reapplied online and was apalled to see that I was number 1446 in line. Who knows now how long I will become stuck in the second-class parking now.