Letters to the Editor from Last Week’s Transportation Article

Thomas Paxton, fourth-year history major:

I am writing in response to the editorial boards article “Transportation’s System Failure.”  I am an extremely easy going individual and am rarely bothered by university policy shortcomings due to a general understanding of how such a large institution is bound to have a problem or two but a recent event seems to me to be such a blatant attempt at squeezing money from students I had to say something.  In the past the University has not issued parking tickets during the first full week of classes to give commuter students, like myself, a chance to buy and pick up their parking passes but this quarter the policy changed.  Perhaps, I did not receive the notice, maybe I deleted the email informing me of a change to this policy or maybe I missed the hearsay about a change on campus since I do not live there but this quarter I received a parking ticket on Friday the second day of classes, the week before the first full week of school.  When I inquired about the reasons why I recieved the ticket I was informed that the last day to park without being fined was the day before classes started.  This means that, for commuter students, we were expected to drive all the way to campus to pick up our parking permits before the quarter.  I simply cannot see any reason for this change to have taken place except in an attempt at raising money for the Transportation department at the students expense.  I feel this is just another example of the universities shift from being an institution that serves the students who fund it to an institution trying to function at the students expense.  It is sad to see my school forget that the students are its purpose, and to treat us as a group to be extorted for funds.

A Letter from Parking and Transportation Services:

In light of the flurry of emails and feedback from zone 3 permit holders, we at Parking wish to take a moment to address your concerns regarding parking on the campus.

Many people do not understand why they have to pay to park to go to school or work. Only after learning that Parking and Transportation is an auxiliary service funded solely through permit fees is there an understanding. Even still, those who question paying for parking end up, for the most part, tolerating the system. In the last week, it seems, that zone 3 permit holders have hit their threshold of tolerance, as it relates to zoning.

Zoning has been a practice on the campus for the last four years and is a necessary practice to maintain parking access for students, staff, faculty, vendors, and visitors.  In previous zoning models, we zoned by major. Based on student input, we revised the program to offer self selection. Utilization studies and sales data were analyzed to develop sales caps for each zone in an effort to minimize overflow and reduce vehicle trips on campus. Zoning evenly distributes demand throughout the entire parking system which alleviates the need for construction. The cost of constructing one stall in a structure is $15,000 to $20,000, which would equate to a 30% increase to  the current permit rates.

One of the misconceptions currently being circulated is that the East Campus Parking Structure adjacent to the ARC was built by Parking and Transportation. In actuality, this structure is part of the East Campus Housing Project, as managed by American Campus Communities. There have been some requests to open the structure but the majority of feedback received is that parking in this area is not desirable and, from our studies, not required. Upon request from the University, a portion of the structure (361 stalls) could be used this year. However, that use would come at a cost to the permit holders. In total, the costing would be a minimum of $173,000. To give some perspective on what that amount of money means; $173,000 equates to the entire subsidy Parking and Transportation pays to OCTA for the University Pass program, or 43% of the subsidy we pay to ASUCI for shuttle service. It may seem like a wasted opportunity not opening this new structure; but, one of our goals and responsibilities is to keep costs as low as possible for the permit holders.

Permit holders should consider the following realities when parking on campus.

1.       1. The first three weeks of the Fall quarter are the busiest as students work to finalize their schedules.

2.      2. Some people do not follow the rules and park without permits which displaces permit holders.

3.       3. Parking is available in ARC and CT lots.

To keep students updated on parking and traffic conditions on campus, Parking has launched its twitter page, which can be followed at www.twitter.com/UCIParking.

We thank you for your patience during this time of heavy congestion.

Cordially,

Parking and Transportation Services