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Larkspur Ferry Commuters Say Parking Fees Are Reasonable

A woman walks to the parking lot at the Larkspur ferry terminal. A new daily fee has proved controversial with some who have parked for free for years.
A woman walks to the parking lot at the Larkspur ferry terminal. A new daily fee has proved controversial with some who have parked for free for years.
- By Rem O'Donnelley

People from Sonoma County and Marin County depend on the Larkspur ferry to whisk them to San Francisco in 30 minutes. That is much shorter than the time if they drove from Larkspur to the city.

Commuters from the North Bay pack the Larkspur ferry parking lot each weekday morning
- By Rem O'Donnelley

The ferry is much more relaxing than driving and allows commuters to focus on other things rather than the car in front of them. However, it is often a challenge for those taking later morning ferries to find a parking space. Some have to park along Sir Francis Drake or side streets so they can take the ferry.

Due to a need for further funds the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District shortfall in revenue, it was decided to start charging a parking fee for ferry commuters.

At 10:30 A.M. on a Tuesday, there were some regular commuters in addition to the tourists taking the ferry. Lisa from San Rafael has been taking the ferry to the city for the last month.

Asked how she felt about having to pay for parking she didn't mind. “It's all perspective, $20 a month is not bad. I came from NY and it was $100 a month.” That fee was for commuter parking in White Plains, New York where she would take the train to Grand Central Station.

Lisa usually takes the 730 A.M. ferry and hasn't encountered a problem getting parking at that hour. She said she pays the new, monthly fee of $20 online.

Also commuting on the ferry was another East Coast transplant. Christian Thwaites said he used to take the train from Fairfield County, Connecticut. Parking back East was difficult as it wasn't as easy as finding an empty space. "Parking was resident dependent (priority given to nearby residents) and there was a waiting list for it, so it wasn't automatic," he said.

Thwaites said a round trip train ride would cost him $40 plus $10 on top of that if he found parking. If people couldn't get parking he said they would, "take the (parking) ticket or get in early enough."

It wasn't just the money that was staggering for a commute, it was also his time. His train trip into work would take one hour fifteen minutes. He said if a person dared to drive during rush hour would take "two to two and a half hours."

"So when I came here, living in Marin County and going into the city, it's a very streamlined system. I like it."

While charging for parking at the Larkspur Ferry Terminal is still controversial with some commuters, there are those that see the price as very affordable compared to their former homes and are pleased to have a place to park.