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Transportation Programs

For Easy Parking and Access

As South Downtown continues to develop into a transportation hub (the district currently hosts four public transportation stations, bus tunnel, commuter rail, waterfront street car, and train, and may host a fifth in the Seattle Monorail Project; two Interstate freeways and two professional sports stadiums; car, bike and pedestrian street traffic), parking continues to become more of a scarce resource. Driving in the downtown area of any city may incur high parking expenses. However, the CIDBIA aids local businesses, residents and patrons with parking issues through the it's unique strategy.

Transport"In addition to our Token Parking Program, we are actively involved in negotiating with the local and state government, property owners and agencies to secure parking for our residents and businesses."

Token Program - In cooperation with two community parking lot operators, Merchants Parking Association and Inter*Im, the CIDBIA issues and subsidizes parking tokens to local businesses and organizations in the district. The individual businesses can give tokens to patrons in order to waylay parking costs. Tokens are accepted at a variety of participating lots. Although the tokens do not necessarily guarantee a spot in any given lot, they are a step in the right direction toward sponsoring goodwill between our neighborhood and visitors.

Other Parking Programs - There are three agencies that currently oversee parking programs in the Chinatown-International District: Merchants Parking Association (MPA), Inter*Im and the CIDBIA. Together, these agencies provide a host of parking programs aimed at serving businesses and residents in the district. Existing parking programs include:

  • Community parking lots where employees and residents can purchase monthly parking at a discounted rate. Inter*Im operates two such lots, and MPA operates others that are owned by private entities throughout the district.

  • A token program to validate parking at participating lots.

  • Shuttle bus services to satellite parking locations outside of the district.

  • Subsidized bus passes for low-income residents.

  • Discounted residential parking rates that are effective between 6:00 PM and 6:00 AM at parking lots operated by MPA.

There are approximately 3,400 public parking spaces that exist in the Chinatown-International District. Approximately 18% of these spaces are on-street, while 82% are off-street. Of the off-street parking spaces, 1,150 are located in the Union Station parking garage, and the remaining spaces are located in surface parking lots. All of the parking programs rely on the availability of off-street parking. Except for the Union Station Garage, all parking in the Chinatown-International District is provided by surface parking lots that could be lost to redevelopment. In the next five years, it is expected that at least eight of these surface parking lots could be redeveloped, which would eliminate up to 23% of the public parking in the district. For this reason, the parking strategy with the highest priority is constructing additional parking to serve community needs. (Excerpt of Executive Summary "Chinatown-International District off-street parking study" 1999; by Heffron Transportation)