There is some good news and some not-so-good news for South Orange’s commuters.
The good news: the opening of the covered, multi-level parking garage at the Third & Valley multi-use apartment complex (expected to open January 2016), will help to shorten the current four to five year wait list for commuter parking in South Orange.
However, the privilege of parking in the brand-new garage steps away from the train station will come at a price: $700 a year, to be precise. In addition, fees at other commuter lots in town are set to rise to $450 from $300 per year. Jitney passes will increase from $150 to $225 annually.
That is some of the news that came out of “We Have a LOT to Talk About,” an informational public meeting hosted by the South Orange Parking Authority on June 11. SOPA is an autonomous agency not legally affiliated with the Township of South Orange; it gives out parking tickets, but does not keep the revenue (the township does.)
The Third & Valley garage will hold 513 spaces on five levels; 258 are private spaces for tenants and others, and 255 are public spaces.
The price increases are to cover the nearly 50% annual operating maintenance garage expense SOPA is responsible for, as well as to recoup past revenue previously earned at the Rescue Squad lot and address the cost of jitney driver salaries. SOPA initially discussed phasing in an incremental rise but decided against that.
The price will be comparable to that of other local parking garages, including those in Millburn, Montclair and Summit.
The price increase is not yet official; it must first be passed by the SOPA Board of Commissioners.
Some fast facts about the Third & Valley garage:
- 513 spaces on 5 levels
- 258 private spaces
- 255 public spaces
- Anticipated opening January 2016
- SOPA is a hybrid sub-tenant paying a quarterly operating cost
In a Q&A session following a presentation, SOPA Chairman Marc Bromfeld addressed these issues as well as questions about the new temporary Church Street lot (which will become available for employee and shopper parking when the garage opens) and potential traffic concerns and solutions when Third & Valley opens (options include adding a turning arrow to the Third & Valley intersection and a traffic light at Third and N. Ridgewood Rd., among others. See the link below to the Q&A for more details).
In an email, SOPA executive director Mark Hartwyk explained that the current resident commuter wait list has 464 names and an approximate wait time of 4-5 years. The NJ Transit resident and non-resident wait list has 702 names and a similar wait time, while Mountain Station has 102 names and an 18-month wait time.
The opening of the Third & Valley garage “might reduce [the] wait list by a year…” said Hartwyk, who cautioned that was a “guesstimate.” There will be a net gain of 70 spaces in the garage from what the township had in the previous surface lot.
“Once we transition people into the garage we’ll be able to take some more people off of the list and offer them some of the secondary locations,” Hartwyk said. “We are also in the process of purging the wait list of people who no longer want to be on it or have moved, etc.”