Last week, the Los Angeles Rams played their first home game since returning to Southern California. And while it took place in their temporary home, the LA Memorial Coliseum – a historic stadium that has twice hosted the Olympics and currently hosts USC football games – the arrival of the NFL created a unique transportation-demand situation, specifically when it came to parking.
While season ticket holders could pay $50 for a spot, the LA Times’ Brittny Mejia described a surge, where nearby lots charged hundreds of dollars for a single spot, creating a “laboratory” for transit and parking demand.
The LA Coliseum is especially notable since it’s blocks from two stops on the recently-extended Expo light rail line, which now runs from Santa Monica to downtown LA. Mejia writes:
A group of urban planners have long supported hefty parking rates as well as high road tolls as a way of encouraging motorists to get out of their cars and use public transportation.
Some cities – especially those with extensive mass transit systems – have adopted these “congestion pricing” concepts. L.A. is a tougher case because rail service is limited and so many people still get around by car.
But backers say the Coliseum offers a good test case because it’s close to the Expo Line and several bus lines and it’s also served by ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft.
Donald Shoup, an urban planning professor at UCLA and parking policy expert, says sky-high parking prices could be exactly what L.A. needs. Price gouging could motivate otherwise reluctant Angelenos to embrace the many mass transit alternatives to the Coliseum.
There’s some indication that fans might be taking notice already. In just the preseason, the Los Angeles Daily News noted that the Rams games boosted Expo Line ridership nearly 30 percent above its typical Saturday numbers.
And in general, LA Metro reports that the Expo line is drawing a number of riders new to transit: at least 70 percent of riders at the new, western stops were not previously regular Expo riders. Though the prices featured in the LA Times are extreme (as the demand surely is), accurately-priced parking is a key tool for encouraging drivers to try out transit and other options. As the LA Rams have three seasons to play in the Coliseum before moving to their new stadium in Inglewood, the transportation scenario – and parking prices – will be something to keep an eye on.
Photo: Packed parking in Santa Monica (Chris Goldberg, Flickr, Creative Commons).