Monday, January 31, 2011

Increasing parking rates proposed by WSU Parking and Transportation Services

By: Jenna Cook

             Parking and Transportation Services proposed an increase for all parking rates during the ASWSU meeting Wednesday.
            The proposed rate increase would take place over three years and would raise funds for repairs to parking garages and surface lots. Bridgette G. Brady represented PTS at the meeting and presented the proposed plan of action and asked for ASWSU support.
            The new rates would include a monthly increase of $0.46 for blue parking passes and $2.40 for orange parking passes. The hourly rate for all garages will increase up to 5 percent. The PTS said they are trying to keep the increases as small as possible. They are taking other actions other than the increases such as discontinuing the Wheatland Express Intercampus Shuttle service and reduce expenses by decreasing staffing.
            The PTS said they do not receive any state funding and all parking maintenance, construction, enforcement and administrative services are paid for by the parking system users through permit, enforcement, garage and event parking revenue. Brady stressed the importance of approval for this increase to build the funds to repair the parking garages and surface lots on the WSU campus.
           Currently, the Fine Arts Garage is in need of the most repairs. According to the PTS FAQs sheet for the proposal, no major capital repairs performed on the garage since its construction in 1970. Brady said the Fine Arts Garage will account for about $1.2 million or 50 percent of the total funds. If there is no rate increase there is a possibility of closing garages for safety reasons.
         “I'm sure you heard the dire situation that the Fine Arts garage is in. I'd rather see a marginal increase in parking rates than see the garage close down”, District 7 Senator Alex D. Smith said.
          Most of the senators agreed that shutting down the garages is not the best option. PTS states if no work is done to the garages the deterioration will continue at a fast rate and the cost to repairs will increase each year the repairs are deferred.
         “We should fix the problems present now, because things will only get worse as time goes on and who knows how much damage could be done if we let the current problems sit”, District 4 Senator Grant M. Eastey said.
           Some of the senators had various concerns about this increase such as would the increase be permanent after the three years and would all students be affected? Brady said the increase would not be permanent and students who don’t park in the garages or buy WSU parking passes will not be affected.
           “I am in favor of the increase. People are going to buy the parking passes no matter what, since the increase is a little under $1 a month, I don't see them having much trouble selling the passes”, Eastey said.
           If the proposed increase is approved and repairs are made to all garages, some senators questioned if this would be the end of the increases. “It’s going to be hard to tell if there will be a need for anymore increases after the three years”, Brady said.