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Need a Train Station Parking Permit? Get in Line

Westport resident Tammy Jersey has something that about 2,500 people are waiting to get their hands on: A parking permit for either train station in Westport.

Jersey, a commuter, said she was on the waiting list for a permit for about three or four years before she received the highly sought after window sticker. Weston resident Tom O'Connell, on the other hand, said this is his sixth year on the waiting list.

"When I've called in the past, I had a woman tell me that more permits are released to Westport residents than to Weston residents," said O'Connell, who pays $4 a day to park in a non-permit space at the Saugatuck station.

However, Westport Deputy Police Chief Dale Call said Westport residents are not favored over nonresidents. "The average wait time for a permit is about five years, and that's in line with every other Fairfield County station on the New Haven Line," Call said. "No one gets preferential treatment over anyone else. And we can't limit parking to residents only because some of the spaces are town owned and some are state owned."

When the time comes to issue permits, Call said a proportional amount of residents and nonresidents are selected. Also, keeping the process as fair as possible, he said permits are issued in numerical order.

This means someone closer to the top of the waiting list will receive a permit before someone at the bottom. "We don't look at names. If we send out 200 [permit] applications, they go out to numbers one through 200 on the list."

For O'Connell, though, this process is flawed. "Several times I was told I was next. But when I didn't get it, the explanation was, 'We released some permits but not as many as we thought,'" he said. "Each time I think I'm going to get it, I don't. I'll probably get it as a retirement gift."

As of November, there were roughly 2,500 people on the waiting list. Call blames the lack of parking spaces and a two-year freeze on permits from 2007 to 2009. "There are about 1,714 parking spaces between the two stations, 1,300 of which are permit spaces," Call said. "We don't have the real estate to create more parking, and no one wants to see a parking garage."

Do you have a parking permit? How long did it take you to receive it? Leave a comment below.

Want to know how Westport's waiting list compares with Fairfield's? Check out this story:

Fairfield Station Wait-Listers See End in Sight

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