Parking pays – so pull in and put up

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Parking Service has moved to their old location by the Testing Center. Jake Buntjer / UVU Review

The sum of parking permits and citations at the school last year totaled nearly $1 million. According to the Parking Services website, the total revenue in parking passes alone for the 2009-2010 school year was $835,016, with paid parking citations making up rest of the total million.

Parking Services is very rare, if not unique, among the departments that make up a public university. Most departments receive their funding from the money that came from state funds, tuition and the university’s budget.

Parking Services doesn’t receive any of that money. Instead, every dollar that is in their budget comes from the revenue from permits or fees.

Tena Medina, supervisor for Parking Services, laid out the demands the department has on its budget. Parking Services pays for the maintenance and upkeep of the parking lots, including fixing broken lights and resurfacing the asphalt.

They pay to have the parking lot maps printed. They are responsible for the wages of the full-time, part-time and student employees working in the department. Their budget is required to fill the same needs as any other department without the benefit of regular external funding.

As Parking Services depends on revenue coming from permits and fees, there is a conflicting need to maximize the number of passes while providing the best service to the students. With 7,600 parking spots available on campus, approximately 5,300 of these are open to students.

It is possible to oversell the number of permits issued since not every student needs to have a spot at the same time, but selling too many permits denies paying customers an available place to park.

Last year, approximately 10,000 student passes were sold, according to data published on the Parking Services website. As the university grows, the number of students buying passes will also increase, putting more strain on the parking lot capacity.

Medina did point out that while the more popular lots on the north of campus fill up, there are still spots that remain available in less desirable lots to the east and south. Eventually, even those will be filled if changes are not made.

Discussions have been taking place about expanding the campus’ parking capacity with a parking structure, but there are obstacles making that difficult. According to Medina, the price tag for a parking structure would be anywhere from $12-15 million, well outside of Parking Services’ budget. Supplemental funding would be required from the state and donors, but even then permit prices would increase dramatically.

The desire is to begin work on expansion in the next few years, but the current economic situation might hinder that goal.

This past week highlights what an issue parking is to students and faculty alike. Students missing twenty or more minutes of class while they search the lots for an empty space is no small problem. While the situation will improve somewhat as people compensate for the delay, the influx of students will continue to strain the parking resources available.

There are two choices students have: they can cope with the existing parking services system as it deteriorates over the next few years, or suffer a sharp increase in the cost of parking permits in the future when a parking structure is built.

Neither of the aforementioned alternatives to these issues is attractive, but in a way they are evenly matched. Students will pay, either directly with their wallets or indirectly through their time. If the increase is too expensive, students will choose other options that are less expensive.

Parking Services will need to walk a fine line to balance their financial needs with students’ resources and willingness to spend. Failure to do so will result in more bike and bus riders seen on campus in the coming years, hurting the department’s only source of revenue.