By Noah Miller
Staff and students at the U of C once again find themselves with parking that is expensive and stretched thin. Parking lots are either packed near capacity or too costly for a student budget.
“When I come to park at the school for work in the afternoon there is barely anything available,” said Dinos events staff supervisor Marianne Dyck.
Despite the apparent lack of places to park, Parking and Traffic Services director Susan Austen remains confident that for the time being there is enough parking to go around.
“Currently there is adequate parking on campus,” said Austen. “Since the start of the current school year we have not completely filled all available public parking.”
She noted that two of the more popular pay lots, 11 and 32, have been full while stalls have remained available in Lot 10 and the Arts Parkade.
Few students can avoid peak traffic with the start of classes each day, usually between 9:30 a.m. and noon. Although it’s possible to get a space on campus, Austen agreed it isn’t always easy to do so.
“We monitor numbers carefully, and our primary indicators of not having sufficient parking overall would be vehicles that cannot be accommodated on a regular basis,” said Austen.Â
“This hasn’t happened yet, just the preferred lots have been full.”
As the cold weather sets in and biking and transit become undesirable, limited parking will only be exacerbated.
Fourth-year development studies student Brita Goldie noted that even though there are spaces available, they are not affordable to the average student.
“The University has plenty of spaces to park but they are all expensive and out of my price range as a student,” said Goldie. “It is ridiculous to think that students can afford to pay between $4 and $12 a day to park on campus.”
With an increase in tuition and parking costs raised to between four and 20 dollars per day, students are scrambling to find more affordable options.
“Last year I tried to avoid parking on campus due to the high costs Â– it was $3.50 per day in the cheapest lot Â– but this year with the park and ride fee and an increase in daily parking rates on campus I decided to buy a parking pass,” said Goldie.
Goldie admits her parking pass is reasonably priced, $210 for September to April. However the lot is at McMahon Stadium, a long walk when it is cold and dark.
Goldie also noted the high traffic volumes apparent during the peak period around the time classes start each day.
“[McMahon] offers lots of spots but if you are not there before 11 a.m., it is harder to find a parking spot and you often have to park at the very back of the lot. That makes the walk to campus around five to 10 minutes,” said Goldie. “I think with the raised tuition and our status as a commuter school, the university would offer more affordable and accessible options for parking.”
Parking and Traffic Services currently operates three programs and is pursuing several other transportation demand management projects that it hopes will help free up spots.
However, one of these programs, the UPass, has taken a huge hit with the institution of park and ride fees, hiking the cost of parking off campus and commuting by train. Nevertheless, parking services’ Top of the Lot carpooling program and car-sharing program remain viable options where multiple U of C students live along the same route.
Parking services is also pursuing upgraded bike security and storage on campus, said Austen.
“Students need to think about their absolute need to have a vehicle on campus and what their transportation options might be,” she said.