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BART parking at Fruitvale station overflows while nearby lot remains empty

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Finding parking at the Fruitvale station remains a daily hassle for commuters

The Fruitvale Village sign next to Fruitvale BART station. Eric Fredericks

The University of Utah released a study last week picking apart parking needs near five major transit destinations, including the Fruitvale BART station, a place in dire need of more parking.

Although report authors note that Fruitvale Village intentionally lowballed its number of retail parking spaces, the village still ended up with more than it really needs.

The standard formula laid out by the Institute of Transportation Engineers (a private academic and educational body) estimates that the Fruitvale area should have attracted nearly 6,000 car trips in the study period. Researchers actually counted a little more than 3,000.

Eric Fredericks

At peak capacity, the Fruitvale lots were only 84 percent full during the survey. Note that said figure translates to only 19 percent of the standard prescribed number of spaces for a retail center of this size.

Fruitvale built less because it’s right next to the BART station. Over a quarter of Fruitvale visitors arrived via BART, while 15 percent arrived by bus. Only 23 percent came by car, and the report does not break down how many of those were dropped off instead of driving themselves and then needing space to park.

Meanwhile, finding parking at Fruitvale for BART-specific purposes remains a daily hassle for commuters. BART spokesperson Alicia Trost tells Curbed SF that all BART parking lots fill up by 8:30 A.M. on weekdays. The system contains nearly 46,000 parking space.

Back in 1991, BART wanted to build additional parking on the Fruitvale site. But neighbors fought it in favor of the village setup. The Federal Highway Administration explains:

Although the community agreed that new parking was necessary, the design and location of the facility did not sit well with Fruitvale residents and business owners. Members of the community were concerned that the proposed structure would increase traffic and pollution and further separate the Fruitvale neighborhood from the BART station.

On the surface, this seems like painful irony: BART gave up extra parking it now needs to usher in retail that has parking it doesn’t need.

But of course, if the Fruitvale retail center wasn’t there, more locals would have to drive further or commute via BART for basic services, and parking would probably run short anyway. Hardly anyone today would trade the existing locale for another garage—even if the relative parking arrangements do suggest that the gods of transit have a sense of humor.