More riders find tight parking at Boyds MARC train station
County plans to stripe parking lot in July
The MARC train station in Germantown has gotten too congested for Jon Utz, so now he drives to Boyds every morning.
The small parking lot adjacent to the Boyds train station was full Monday with 16 cars, three of them parked along the train tracks. Utz, a Germantown resident, was one of five riders who got off MARC train P873 Monday afternoon and walked across the tracks to their awaiting cars. Utz said a number of people get on the train at Boyds now and maybe more would park at the unmanned station if the parking was defined.
With no lines painted on the ground to delineate spaces, some cars parked at the station Monday took up more than one potential spot.
"It's not the biggest issue in the world, but there are more people riding from Boyds now," Utz said. "You could probably get a few more cars in here if there were lines telling people what is a parking space."
Terry Owens, spokesman for the Maryland Transit Administration, which operates MARC, said the train stations in Boyds and Germantown are owned by Montgomery County and MTA is not responsible for the parking.
County Department of Transportation spokesman Tom Pogue said fresh lines will be painted on the Boyds parking lot in July.
A parking structure to accommodate more vehicles at the Germantown station would be an ideal fix to the parking problem, Councilman Michael J. Knapp (D-Dist. 2) of Germantown said in a phone interview Monday.
The County Council has discussed adding such a structure, Knapp said, but to pay for the construction in a bad economy, the county would have to charge drivers to park. Knapp said he didn't know how much a new parking garage at the Germantown station would cost.
"The parking issue at the Germantown train station is harder to fix than the one at the Boyds train station," he said.
Save Maryland Area Rail Transit member Miriam Schoenbaum has spent months e-mailing County Council members, trying to get them to paint parking space lines at the Boyds station.
The Boyds train station is three minutes from Utz's home as opposed to a six-minute drive to the Germantown station. Parking at the two stations is free, but the move still costs Utz extra. Because of a difference in fare zones, he now pays $150 for a monthly rail pass, $25 more than if he boarded the train in Germantown.
Owens said MTA has noticed an increase in ridership at the Boyds station. Through May 2008, an average of a few more than 11 riders per day traveled from Boyds. Through March of this year, more than 15 riders per day are boarding trains at the station. Three trains leave the station headed to Washington, D.C. each morning and five trains return in the evening.
Daily ridership from the Germantown station is at about 751, Owens said.
The Germantown and Boyds stations are about three miles apart and it takes about five minutes to get from one station to the other on the train. The train ride from Boyds to Union Station in Washington, D.C. takes about an hour.
The Dickerson and Boyds train stations were set to be closed in 2006, but SMART fought to keep them open.
Schoenbaum, of Boyds, said the influx of commuters at Boyds is spilling over from the Germantown station. She walks to the train station from her home to ride to work in Washington, D.C., but said she knows the parking is tight.
"We've been trying to get the county to stripe the parking lot," she said in a Monday phone interview. "You could get more cars in the lot if people knew where they could park.