On-campus residents to pay parking upcharge next year
Parking permit rates for the 2019-2020 academic year are up, and students residing on campus are facing higher parking costs than ever.
The new prices now have commuters and residents paying different rates on some of the permit options. While prices have gone up for both groups, residents will now have to pay more for zone and garage parking on campus.
“Parking patterns indicate that a majority of residents park their vehicles without moving them for an extended period of time and, quite often, the spaces that are being taken up are prime, proximal spaces,” said Neil Hart, executive director of UH Auxiliary Services. “This has been a point of contention for our commuter customers, which represent 90 percent of our on-campus parking permits — they basically do not have access to these spaces.”
The price of a garage permit increased to $965 for residents and $670 for commuters, from this year’s flat rate of $570. Zone parking permits have increased to $610 for residents and $405 for commuters, from this year’s flat rate of $370.
“Prices had to go up because to build garages four and five — Parking and Transportation Services (PTS) had to take out loans in order to afford them,” said Elliot Kauffman, a student member of the Transportation and Parking Advisory Committee. “Neither tuition nor the University put money into PTS because as an auxiliary service, that is against state law.”
Kauffman said the situation is tricky because of campus expansion, specifically when new buildings are built on existing surface lots.
“When buildings are built on surface lots, PTS has to replace those missing parking spots,” Kauffman said. “Since garage spots cost more, parking permit prices have to rise to reflect that.”
While the 2019-2020 academic year will bring significant increases to permit prices, there is not much concern that these increases will discourage students from living on campus.
“There are so many benefits to living on campus, including the close proximity to classes and amenities,” Hart said. “However, as our on-campus residential community continues to grow, we have to find viable alternatives to parking on campus.”
PTS often oversells parking lots as a means to ensure each space is getting maximum usage. For every 10 spots available in a surface lot, they may sell 14 passes, figuring not all 14 cars will be parked all day. In theory, this allows everyone to find a spot.
“Rates were determined by using the 1.4 oversell factor that we use for commuter parkers,” Hart said. “Basically, if a resident is parked all day in a lot, we have to decrease our oversell and therefore have to sell less spaces.”
The rate increase was approved last year by a TPAC vote, which reviews rate structures every two years.
“I think people need to understand that their concerns and frustrations are valid, however, the rate increase was voted on last year,” said Andrew Bahlmann, the Student Government Association appointee to TPAC. “Though I was on the committee at the time and I own that, at the end of the day I have to look at what is in the best interest of the department to continue providing these services.”
Student reactions to the price hike have been mixed, but generally they are not very positive.
“A lot of students are financially struggling. The prices are ridiculous, we don’t need another thing to stress about, especially those of us who don’t have parents paying for school,” said biology senior Dalia Aldin. “Where are we supposed (to) go get the money from?”
Mechanical engineering freshman Noah Ashworth said he believes it is unfair for on-campus residents to have to pay more for parking than commuters.
“Residents have just as much of a need for a vehicle as commuters, yet we are supposed to pay even more,” Ashworth said. “If I can’t afford the extra money, I’m forced to live stranded on campus, which not only makes it tough for me to get groceries and all but also puts stress on my family because they would have to drive all the way here just for me to be able to go home.”
Mathematics junior Tara Bentley, who also lives on campus, echoed his concerns about the steep increase for residents.
“I understand that as a resident my car is parked at UH more often, but how does that justify a 65 percent price increase? I could buy round-trip tickets to anywhere in America for the price of a lot space or round-trip tickets to Australia for the price of a garage space,” Bentley said.
PTS has outlined other options for students uninterested or unable to pay for on-campus parking, including access to remote lots, for which the permit price will be the same for commuters and residents, or carpooling to campus.
“The (Coogs On Alternative and Sustainable Transportation) program, which incentivizes students to not bring a vehicle on campus, and our remote parking campus are two of the options,” Hart said. “COAST minimizes the number of vehicles traveling to campus and ultimately reducing the carbon footprint and improving air quality.”