The city of Austin has initiated a corridor study of the Guadalupe Street Corridor from 18th to 29th, more commonly known as “The Drag.” I encourage you to fill out their survey. One of the questions I wanted answered about how we allocate space on the Drag is: how much mobility does the Guadalupe parking lane provide? So I dragged my ever-patient friend Marcus to, well, the Drag, and we counted parking spaces. The short answer is to the question is: not much.
By our count, there are 70 parking spaces on the Drag. To put this in context, there are 128 parking spaces on San Antonio St. between MLK and 26th St, and 26 parking spaces in a single McDonald’s parking lot. There are 70 parking spaces on the small surface parking lot on the southwest corner of 25th and Guadalupe and 218 parking spaces in the St. Austin’s parking lot at San Antonio and Guadalupe, which also houses 3 storefronts. Let’s put that in table form:
|McDonald’s at MLK||26|
|San Antonio from 18th to 26th||128|
|St. Austin’s garage||218|
The spots on this table–and most especially the on-street Drag parking–represent a tiny fraction of the parking in West Campus, or even the parking within a single block of the Drag. The University Coop owns a large garage on San Antonio and there is another commercial parking garage on San Antonio which dwarfs the St. Austin’s lot. If every single on-street parking space on the Drag were eliminated but the St. Austin’s parking garage were cloned at 25th and Guadalupe, we would have a net 148 more parking spaces and 3 more storefronts, as well as a lot more room on the road to dedicate to travelers.
More importantly, the number of parking spaces is tiny compared to the potential alternative uses for this lane. The Drag is home to most of Austin’s most popular bus routes (1/3/5/640/801/803), and some less popular ones as well (19). A single 803 bus can carry 78 passengers and a single 801 bus can carry 101 passengers. In an hour of traffic, many many multiples more people take the bus along the Drag (in either direction) than have their cars parked there. There is so much more we could be doing with this space than provide one long surface parking lot.