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Aventures in Getting There: Parking at Route 59 train station

Cars pack Route 59 trastatiparking lot Friday February 8 2013. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media

Cars pack the Route 59 train station parking lot on Friday, February 8, 2013. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 28, 2013 2:34PM

Years ago, the Route 59 train station commuter parking lot had been christened the parking lot in the “middle of nowhere” — something that ascended amidst the cornfields.

In 1988, a year before the Route 59 train station opened, the Illinois Department of Transportation estimated that 640 parking spaces would satisfy demand until 2010. This turned out to be a poor prediction.

The city of Naperville and the city of Aurora each operate a parking lot flanking either side the train tracks — Naperville’s lot to the north and Aurora’s lot to the south. Today, the two lots have a whopping 4,300 spaces.

The city of Naperville’s commuter parking lot has 1,121 permit parking spaces, 666 daily use spaces, and 27 handicapped parking spaces.

A new proposal would shift 56 permit parking spaces to daily fee spaces. This follows a shift of 43 permit spaces to daily fee spaces in 2010.

The Naperville Transportation Advisory Board recommended approval of the move, and it will likely be approved by the City Council at its Feb. 19 meeting. Metra already has OK’d the measure.

By increasing the daily fee parking spaces available, fewer people may choose to continue holding a permit they do not use on a regular basis, according to Karyn Robles, transportation team leader for the city of Naperville. In addition, parking spots would be available to nonpermit holders, those who commute downtown infrequently and don’t want to purchase a permit.

To maximize parking lot occupancy, the city of Naperville oversells the number of permits since not all commuters use their permit on a daily basis. The Route 59 commuter lot is 24 percent oversold.

In May 2010, the city eliminated the wait list for the Route 59 train station permit parking.

The wait times for the downtown Naperville train station parking are so long, high-schoolers might want to consider adding their names to the wait list now.

“The wait list for the Burlington and Parkview lot is about 10 and a half years, while the wait list for the Kroehler lot is about six years,” Robles said.

“Over time, we had been seeing that our daily fee spaces at Route 59 were getting more and more occupied,” Robles said.

The city had been counting availability monthly, but decided to count spaces more frequently to see if they “were seeing an anomaly or if we were seeing a study increase in demand for the daily parking spaces,” she added.

Monthly occupancy data for 2012 showed an average of 218 vacant permit spaces and 37 vacant daily fee parking spaces at the Route 59 commuter lot. Since September, the statistics show that many days, there were no daily parking spaces available.

There is no waiting list for permit spaces for the north side commuter parking lot at Route 59. There is a six-year waiting list for the city of Aurora operated south-side lot.

Shedding light on the discrepancy, Robles said, “Most commuters who are traveling to the Route 59 train station live south of North Aurora Road, so the south lot is the more desirable lot.”

“Commuters obtain a Naperville permit and put their name on the wait list for the Aurora permit parking lot,” Robles said. “Once the six year wait is up, they will switch to the other lot.”

A six-year wait for a commuter to reduce their drive time by an additional six to eight minutes each day, that’s amazing. As a former commuter myself, I can totally relate to the euphoric moment when commuters parking on the north side receive notification that they can park on the south side. Ahhh, savor the extra moments!

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