The art of parking

Students slowly surrendered to Parking Services on Tuesday evening as more than a dozen idling cars slowly exited the exhaust-filled Arts Parkade. Resistance to paying $4 to exit the lot lasted well beyond midnight as lot attendants and students locked horns in a deranged staring contest.

“Our supervisor [Louis Letiecq] asked us to stay here because there are a hundred cars here,” said parking booth attendant Michael Chan on the morning of Wed., Jan. 29. “If there are over 200 cars [sic], our supervisor will ask us to stay.”

Second-year Fine Arts student Adam Mailman was disappointed with the news.

“We’ve been here an hour now,” he said around 1 a.m. “We drove around the entire lot and I’d say there were 30 cars, not 200.”

Students’ Union Vice-President Robbie White understands the university’s decision to be more vigorous in its enforcement.

“It’s unfortunate for students that they [Parking Services] finally caught on to people cheating the system,” he said. “But everyone should have to pay the same for parking.”

Before Tue., Jan. 28, students exiting the parkade after 11:30 p.m. did not have to pay as the lot attendants went off duty at that time. U of C Director of Ancillary Services Pete Fraser said that the move to extend booth hours was intended to recover lost revenue.

“Instead of complaining, they [students] should be thankful they didn’t have to pay before,” said Fraser.

According to Fraser, 1,500 to 1,800 cars pass through the 1,200-stall parkade each day. Signage in the parkade clearly states that it operates from 6:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. as a pay lot.

“It’s not a big number of cars but it is a consistent group of people including the Gauntlet who take advantage of the situation, and the group is getting a little larger,” said Fraser. “We are fluctuating the hours in the parkade to ensure we don’t lose revenue.”

Fraser stated that budget issues were a consideration for increasing collection hours.

“Parking Services was asked to give the university a million dollars more this year than it did last year,” he said. “It’s fair to say that [recovering] the lost revenue because people weren’t paying makes it worthwhile to pay someone to stay in the booth to collect those funds.”

Booth Attendant Chan was unsympathetic Wednesday morning.

“For parking, we didn’t say ‘we close and then there is no charge. If the students feel honest, they can pay in the day after we close.”

In a Wed., Jan. 29 post to the online Gauntlet forums signed “C. M. Wing,” one individual expressed concerns with the new system.

“I’m disappointed that the university would gouge us like this,” the individual wrote. “Since I couldn’t afford to pay $4 for parking every night, I guess I’ll just have to start taking my chances walking to the C-Train and riding it at midnight.”

White is also concerned about safety with increased use of cheaper lots like Lot 10, which costs $2 per day.

“I certainly hope that campus security will keep up their patrols and video monitoring of the outlying areas,” he said.

Fraser dismissed concerns about potentially decreased parking lot safety because of the new policy.

“I don’t think they’re reasonable concerns,” said Fraser. “It’s a safe campus.”

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