San Francisco: BART’s $3 parking comes under scrutiny. Should prices go up with demand?

Three-dollar parking at BART, a perk that dates back to the days of carpeted trains and one-seat-per-passenger, may be on its way out.

The transit agency’s board of directors will discuss several policy ideas Thursday to fix what some see as an archaic parking system with space so cheap that some lots routinely fill up before 8 a.m. BART rents most spaces by the day, setting aside a portion for carpools and permit-holders. A monthly permit is BART’s equivalent to a rent-controlled apartment in San Francisco: the coveted spaces rarely change hands.

“There are other parking facilities adjacent to BART that do charge more,” said Bob Franklin, BART’s director of customer access and accessibility. He pointed to the $5 meters near Lafayette Station and the privately run garage by Walnut Creek Station, where spots cost $15 to $18.

The most likely solution, demand-based pricing, would make spots more expensive at most stations — especially during commute hours. Supporters say it’s the best way to manage a hot commodity that will only get more scarce as BART builds housing on its properties. Opponents say it will chase people away from the rail system and onto already packed freeways.

The issue has caused tense divisions among BART riders. Though many are frustrated with the current parking system, they aren’t willing to get out of their cars.