Parking better than it appears

By By Jeffrey Jenkins

By Jeffrey Jenkins

Maybe this has happened to you.

You are running late for class on the day of a big test or an important presentation. You arrive at the parking lot only to find that even with the parking permit that you paid more than $100 for, there are no spots left. To make matters worse, you park in an undesignated parking area, or by a meter that for whatever reason only allows 36 minutes worth of purchased time, knowing full well that in a matter of minutes, one of Commuter Services’ finest will roll by on a bicycle and slap you with a $10 ticket.

On your sprint to class you notice large work trucks that are parked without permits or the infamous white rectangular piece of paper on the windshield. After all of this, the only thing you can hope for is the speedy destruction of the Commuter Services office.

Parking facilities at the U are not ideal. However, they are not as bad as we think they are.

It is important to consider two things: First, the legal relationship the Commuter Services office has with the U and second, how the U’s parking facilities compare with other universities’ facilities.

Commuter Services acts as an auxiliary organization to the U. Alma Allred, director of Commuter Services, said this means that its office is responsible for all costs relating to Commuter Services. These include everything from electricity bills for lights in parking facilities to snow removal in the winter.

“The only money Commuter Services can spend is money that it generates,” Allred said. Commuter Services does not receive tax appropriations from the state as the U does, he said.

Allred said that Commuter Services sells more permits than there are spots.

“We sell as many permits as students are willing to purchase because we do not have reserved parking,” he said.

This practice isn’t uncommon among other public and university parking facilities. It wouldn’t make sense for Commuter Services to deny a pass to a student who takes afternoon classes, when the parking lots are virtually empty, because all of the spots are sold to students who attend class in the morning.

The U is undergoing extensive renovations and construction. The contractors require spots for their workers, and if parking is not provided, they will expand the construction zone to facilitate their parking needs. An expanded construction zone has the potential to take up portions of a parking lot, depending on the area of construction and at the very least, make it difficult to navigate around campus on foot.

When comparing the U parking conundrum with other universities that have a large commuting population, it becomes clear that our circumstances in regard to cost and convenience are more desirable than most. The University of Washington charges $285 per quarter for a basic permit, which equates to $1,140 per year, and is just as overpopulated at peak campus times as the U.

It is easy to be critical of things that are not as ideal or convenient as we would like, and parking is no exception. But next time you are unable to find a spot and the urge arises to curse the Commuter Services office, just remember that Commuter Services is not the bane you originally thought.

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Jeffrey Jenkins

Phil Cannon