Tuesday, December 03, 2002



What is the deal with parking at the U? I entered the online lottery for parking last night. The lottery runs from December 2 to December 11, and entrants are notifed on the 12th as to the status of their applications. What does one win in this lottery? The right to pay anywhere from $108.00 to almost $500.00 to park in a certain lot for a semester. The losers get something, too: a place on the waiting list for all their selected parking lost and the possibility of being notified if and when a space becomes available.

This system is insane. This is the third large state university at which I have been a student, and the second Big Ten institution. Parking at Maryland and at Penn State was a problem, don't get me wrong, but the rates were reasonable! I'm sure rates at MD have gone up, but I paid less than $100.00 for a year-long lot tag. Penn State was in the same neighborhood (I didn't ever get one there, but I did investigate). At MD, there were lotteries for *prime* lot space, but generally, students could apply in person or via the phone registration system (I think by the time I was leaving they had also instituted a web-based application form). Lots were assigned based on credit level and class standing, as well as on/off-campus living situations. It was harder to get a space if you lived on campus, but this does kind of make sense. Anyway, the point is, as long as you weren't a freshman (for whom the system is just really bad), and you applied early enough, you would get a permit. Given the options, too, of phone, web, or in-person application, the whole process was fairly accessible.

The price is not the only thing about U parking that makes no sense: the lots and ramps on campus are both permit and public: I often park in the Fairgrounds lot on the St Paul campus. This lot has a small section devoted to permit parking. Another small portion of the lot is reserved (in the morning) for carpoolers, who get a reduced daily rate if they arrive during morning hours. The greatest part of this lot, by far, however, is daily-rate: $3.25 to park in the lot per day. Of course, there are also more expensive day lots (the one by Continuing Ed on the St Paul campus is $5.00 per day) or the always-closer-and-therefore-way-more-expensive garages. $5.00 for 1-2 hours just seems excessive for a garage. It is nice that the garages cap out at a $12.00/day max, but even then! Too much money!

Why aren't more spaces made available for permit parking? Wouldn't it be better for students (and staff, who go through a similar procedure, from what I gather - at least they have the waiting-list thing, too) to know that they had a parking space guaranteed? It's not like the U isn't making money off of the high semester parking rates, but then again, the daily and hourly lots do make more money.

The U does offer the convenient alternative of the U-pass: $50.00 for a bus pass for the semester. This is a good deal, I admit, but for me, taking the bus would be a great big pain - way more trouble than it's worth. For those of us living in the 'burbs, the bus is a time-suck. It takes me 15-20 minutes to drive to the St Paul campus, and about 20-25 minutes to get to the East Bank. Compare that to over an hour to the East Bank on the bus, and about an hour and a half to St Paul.

Come on, we're college students/graduate students: many of us have limited incomes and tight schedules (work commitments, a lot of classwork). Give us a break!


- posted by laurie @ 12/03/2002 11:11:00 AM
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