By Rhia Perkins
University of Calgary students who drive will need more change to get a parking spot each day.
Starting July 7, pay-per-entry parking rates on campus will increase by approximately 25 cents all over campus, the price for monthly passes will also increase by approximately two dollars while a quarter will buy 13 minutes of meter time instead of the current 15.
"This is the first change since 1993," said Peter Fraser, Director of Ancillary Services. "But the cost of adding parking spaces is so high now. We’re running out of land and nobody wants to walk long distances, so what we’re faced with is building decks on top of lots instead of surface lots, which is three or four times the price per stall."
Students’ Union President Toby White expressed doubt about the allocation of the increased funds.
"We don’t really think Ancillary Services needs a lot more money," he said. "Parking services are driving around in RAV-4s, so I don’t think they’re strapped for cash. We just hope the money goes toward more affordable student parking."
White is disappointed the funds are being raised through user fees when students are faced with so many other rising costs.
"If you look at it independently, it’s not a big increase, but if you look at all the other fees, it does add up," he said. "It would be nice if students could be given a break on things like parking."
Fraser noted several advantages of the increase package. Parking Services will not raise the price for surface lot ticketbooks, and is instituting a re-entry pass that will allow students to pay a small surcharge (approximately one dollar) for a pass that allows them to leave and re-enter a lot during the day.
"We are making carpooling discounts available in all the surface lots, not just lot 10," he said. "That’s a substantial saving; it saves about a buck every time you enter as long as there are three or more people in the car. We think it’s a pretty good package overall."
White is hesitant about the effectiveness of the discounts.
"Hopefully we’ll be able to communicate to students that they should buy books of tickets," he said. "Hopefully they’ll advertise that. That does soften the blow."
Fraser compares Parking Service’s first increase in seven years to the frequent fare increases from Calgary Transit.
"Bus passes have gone up in price at least four times since the last time we increased parking," he noted.
White criticized this and other attempts to rationalize parking increases as staying competitive.
"A lot of students don’t have the option to take transit to school," he said. "It comes down to an accessibility issue."