UWB students recently received a mass email titled “Proposed Parking and UPass Rate Changes.” If you are like me, the first thing that came to mind was, “Are you kidding me!”
The truth is, both Parking Passes and UPass rates are expensive, but does anyone know why? Is the school just trying to milk as much out of us as they can, or is there a legitimate reason for the extra expense? In order to answer this question I interviewed Auxiliary Services Manager, John Shaheen.
The increase for a Quarterly pass is $10.45. That may not seem like a lot, but if you do the math a full-time transfer student will pay an extra $62.70 for 6 quarters. A full-time freshman will pay an extra $125.40 for 12.
So why are we paying the extra $62 or $125? According to the email there are three main reasons:
Shaheen had made the point that community colleges with parking garages are rare, and expensive. Other colleges have $20 dollar quarterly permits because they have surface parking. This takes up a lot more space, but it’s cheaper to build and maintain. A parking garage on the other hand, takes a lot more work to sustain. This is why at UW Seattle a Single Occupancy Vehicle (SOV) permit costs $360 per quarter.
Students and faculty have to pay out of their own pockets because parking and transportation is self sustained financially, which means the State doesn’t support it. On the other hand Shaheen said, “Buildings are funded directly from the State.” The funding for parking and buildings are provided from two different sources. Shaheen continued, “This is true here, [at the] Seattle campus, Tacoma, WSU…” Housing, dining and fitness centers also operate the same way on a campus. These are all self supported as well.
When asked if UWB is going to add more parking spaces Shaheen said, “There are no plans to expand the parking at this time,” but there are, however, “Footprints identified on the master plan for future garages.” The reason for the postponement actually ties back into the parking rates increase. Due to the fact that currently a UPASS is more expensive than a parking pass, the parking pass is seen as the better option for students and faculty. For that reason, they are going to try “stem the tide of rising parking demand” by decreasing the price of a UPASS. According to Shaheen this “…will slow down or reverse parking demand”. If the plan is successful the need for more parking spaces would not be necessary.
When the campus does expand it won’t lose its small campus feel. UWB has a limit of 10,000 FTE (Full-time equivalent) students, which is split 50/50 with Cascadia. Shaheen said, “With the current land it would never grow beyond 10,000 FTE students…there’s no real risk of it becoming like the Seattle Campus.” Naturally he did admit that he does not know what things will be like in 20 or 30 years, however, he reassured me that as of right now “…no one is thinking beyond the 10,000.”
There is something students should be warned of. Shaheen said, “As permit rates go up, fines for no permits needs to go up as well.” They will look at that next year. They are also going to work on the “No in-and-out” policy which applies to Pay by Space. As Shaheen put it, “If you leave there’s no guarantee you can get your space back.” For a permit this works, but not for Pay by Space.
There is an idea to fix this issue—to buy a daily permit that can be displayed in cars. The ticket would function like a parking tag you would get in Seattle. The nice part is that the current machines can actually be converted to do this, so there wouldn’t be a need to purchase new equipment. The point Shaheen wanted to make clear was, “Students get frustrated about that ‘No in-and-out’ privilege…As rates go up, we are trying to address those kinds of service issues.”
Shaheen wanted to let students know, “When the taskforce talks about these issues they really do a lot of thinking about how the students are going to respond and what the students need…It’s a student centered group of people. We don’t want to do anything more than what we have to do.”
With all the money a college student has to fork out, extra expenses can be frustrating. However, despite what we may think at times, Shaheen made it clear that they are trying their best to benefit the students. The fact of the matter is, UWB is a unique campus that is worth the additional costs, even if that means paying $10.45 more a quarter.