Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Light rail parking 101: Final exam

Question No. 1: Spaces in the sparkling new, 540- car RTD parking garage adjacent to the University of Denver light-rail station are intended for: a. Students, faculty and staff at DU b. Hockey fans at the Ritchie Center c. Overnight guests at the Centennial Towers dorms d. Parents attending Commencement e. None of the above If you answered “e,” you understand that the garage was built for transit users only, and you get an “A” for the course. If you answered anything else, continue the exam. 

Question No. 2: If RTD employees discover you’ve parked in the structure but haven’t used light rail to travel to at least one other station, you will be: a. Given a gold star b. Issued a stiff fine c. Held for investigation by Homeland Security d. Sent home with a note to your mother e. Cautioned that after two warnings, your car will be booted or towed the next time you park there If you answered “c,” you have something in your car that shouldn’t be there. If you answered “e,” you’re right. Continue the exam. 

Question No. 3: Parking between 3 and 4 a.m. is: a. A sign that you’re working too late b. Subject to a surcharge c. Proof you’re in no condition to drive d. Well past your bedtime e. Subject to a warning or to being booted or towed If you answered “e,” you’re beginning to get the theme of this course, which is that RTD wants its garage utilized by transit users, not “University clientele.” *** 

“Any person parking in that facility will have to demonstrate they’re using transit,” says Errol Stevens, RTD’s senior manager for property management. And if your car is there later than 3 a.m., he says: “You’re going to get dinged.” 

Here’s how RTD proposes to run the garage: Drive in and get a ticket from a machine called a “spitter.” Hop on a light-rail train and travel. At a light-rail station other than the one you left, validate your ticket by putting it in a machine that stamps the time, date and location. All stations have one. 

When you return to the RTD garage to get your car, give the validated ticket to a parking attendant. Otherwise, you get a warning and they record your license tag. Do it again and get a second warning. The third time you’ll get the boot after you enter to park. The same rules apply for people attending events at the Ritchie Center: no validated ticket, no parking. 

“There’s no bulletproof system,” Stevens allows. “But we think it’s a fairly good disincentive.”

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