T parking revenue is up, but why?
Two possibilities: More customers or less leakage
Parking revenue at the MBTA’s eight biggest lots rose sharply during the first half of the year, suggesting either more people are driving to T stations or less money is now being siphoned away as a result of an ongoing investigation into missing funds.
The numbers for the first six months of the year indicate revenues at the T’s eight biggest parking lots jumped 35 percent. Revenues were flat in January and February, with collections totaling $543,127 in February. Revenue at the eight lots jumped 25 percent to $678,665 in March, and jumped another 9 percent to $741,659 in June.
The initial increase in revenues came after MBTA officials began investigating revenue discrepancies at a couple of parking lots and LAZ Parking, the T’s parking lot operator, fired two of its employees. The big revenue increases in March and April tapered a bit at some of the lots in May and June, but remained well above pre-investigation levels.
MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said the agency is continuing to analyze the parking revenue data, but he indicated in an email that T officials believe they are owed money by LAZ. “The MBTA is exploring its options with respect to the right for it to be made whole,” he said.
The parking investigation was triggered in February when daily revenue reports at some T lots didn’t match up with actual vehicle counts conducted by the agency. An initial investigation was handled by LAZ, but was then taken over by the MBTA Police and an outside auditor. The investigation was turned over to Attorney General Maura Healey’s office last month.
Early on in the investigation, T officials said the receipt discrepancies appeared to be confined to one or two parking lots. But the numbers for the first six months of the year indicate parking revenue has increased at every one of the MBTA’s eight biggest lots, suggesting the problem may be more widespread than initially thought.
The smallest revenue increase came at Wollaston, which went from $56,755 in February to $64,917 in March, an increase of 14 percent. Revenues at Riverside exploded, rising from $75,093 in February to $92,592 in March and $149,290 in June. Between February and June, revenues at Riverside rose nearly 99 percent.
At Wellington, revenues rose from $145,237 in February to $181,189 in March and then retreated backward a bit over the next few months to $170,287 in June. Revenues also spiked at Beachmont, Orient Heights, the Wonderland Surface Lot, and Oak Grove.At North Quincy, where T and LAZ officials say parking revenue definitely went missing, collections jumped from $63,555 in February to $84,235 in March and then $86,469 in June. Comparing May 2015 to May 2016, revenues at North Quincy went from $50,885 to $84,380, a gain of 66 percent.
T officials released the parking revenue numbers for the eight largest lots this week in response to a public records request. The transit authority had previously rejected an earlier public records request for parking revenue data, citing the ongoing investigation.