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Metro is eliminating free parking at the San Fernando Valley's two Red Line stations

Metro is eliminating free parking at the San Fernando Valley's two Red Line stations
Commuters rush through the Metro Red Line station in North Hollywood. After 17 years of free parking, Metro will begin charging $3 per day to park later this month. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

In a push to free up spaces for Los Angeles County subway commuters, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will begin charging for parking at the San Fernando Valley's two Metro Red Line stations later this month.

Starting April 24, parking at the North Hollywood and Universal City/Studio City train stations will cost $3 per day, including nights and weekends. Drivers who don't pay to park will receive a $53 ticket, officials said.

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Metro has provided free parking at both stations since 2000, when the Red Line opened to the Valley.

On many weekday mornings, the 619 free spaces at North Hollywood and 660 spaces in Studio City fill up early in the morning, and not all the spaces are being used by subway commuters, officials say.

"We know there are some people who can only ride transit if they can drive to the station," Metro officials wrote in a post on the agency's blog, the Source. "This move will hopefully benefit many of those riders, as there should finally be spaces open beyond 8 a.m."

Payment will be available through an app that has not yet been released, and at pay stations in each lot. The kiosks will ask drivers for their license plate number and the registration number on their Metro fare card, known as a TAP card.

Metro has advised drivers to leave several extra minutes to work through the new system the first time they pay.

Drivers who pay for monthly parking passes at Universal City and North Hollywood will be automatically rolled over to the new system, Metro said. Both lots have a long waiting list for reserved spaces.

Commuters seeking free parking will still be able to park along the Orange Line busway, which connects to the Red Line, Metro said. On an average day, about 27% of the spaces in those lots are filled.

For more transportation news, follow @laura_nelson on Twitter.

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