Students to pay 10% more for parking permits

By Michael McFall

The rising cost of gas means students will have to pay more for parking permits for the first time in seven years.

The Board of Trustees unanimously approved a 10 percent increase in parking permit fees. U permits and E permits are expected to cost an additional $12 and $6, respectively. The increase will go into effect July 1.

The permit increase is a result of the Utah Transit Authority’s approval of an increase in fuel charges.

In the last seven years, UTA has been able to purchase its annual average of 6.1 million gallons of diesel without passing the rising cost of gas on to consumers. However, it could not afford the price of gas as it is now, and action had to be taken, said Norm Chambers, the U’s assistant vice president for auxiliary services.

UTA’s fuel charge increase, which adds 25 cents to regular bus fares and 50 cents to TRAX tickets, was approved last month to offset the 25 percent jump in diesel fuel prices.

The rising cost of gas forced UTA to either increase prices or cut services, or else the company would be $5 million in debt by the end of the year. UTA’s Board of Trustees unanimously chose to increase prices.

“It’s a scary thing to think about,” said Orrin T. Colby Jr., president of UTA’s Board of Trustees. “I never thought (the price of gas) would get to where it is today.”

UTA approached the U about the price increase last week. The U had to find more revenue to maintain the same transportation services.

Since the U’s Board of Regents already approved the next school year’s transportation fee, the increase had to fall on parking permits, Chambers said.

“Nobody likes the parking increase, but at this point we had no other choice,” he said.

Without the parking permit increase, students would likely have had to pay an added fare to ride UTA buses or TRAX, said Patrick Reimherr, president of the Associated Students of the University of Utah.

The added revenue generated by the increase is expected to offset any further increases UTA might have for the next year, Chambers said. If the price of diesel fuel goes above $4 per gallon, UTA will implement another increase.

However, if the price of diesel fuel drops, UTA’s recent increase could be lowered or rescinded, Colby said. If gas prices drop below $3 per gallon, UTA will take a hard look at their charges, he said.

If UTA approves lowering its fuel charges, the U will follow suit and rethink the parking permit charges, Chambers said.

Unfortunately, it is unlikely that gas prices will drop that low anytime soon, Colby said.

“It would take some kind of intervention by the federal government,” he said.

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