Campus parking is a problem, and URSU doesn’t like the administration’s solution
If you’re a student at the University of Regina, odds are good you’ve heard someone complain about parking.
While some of the complaints are geared towards Parking and Transportation Services, which is responsible for ticketing illegally-parked cars on campus, much of the ire is directed towards the lack of available stalls. With an increase in the “hotel parking” meant for students living in residence, students with M-class parking passes this year can expect to feel an increased squeeze in the number of parking spots they can access.
But the university administration’s relief strategy for parking pass holders has drawn fire from the U of R Students’ Union.
In July, the university’s board of governors passed a proposal to add a $100 fine for possession of fraudulent parking passes to the university’s parking bylaws, as well as to increase the fine for illegally parking on campus from $15 within 14 days and $50 afterward to $65 within 14 days and $100 afterward.
It’s the latter proposal that URSU takes issue with.
“[The increase] is extortionary,” URSU president Kent Peterson told the Carillon. “By jacking up the cost of parking tickets, Vianne Timmons and Parking Services have issued a prescription to the parking problem without doing a thorough diagnosis first.”
The U of R’s vice president of administration, Dave Button, believes illegal parking is the source of the problem. According to the proposal he brought before the board of governors in July, he explained that the number of illegal parkers on a given day as recently as two years ago was under 50. However, that number jumped over the last two years to between 200 and 400 from the months of September to November.
“We had many, many complaints from students who were not getting access,” he told the Carillon. “It’s very frustrating when you’ve paid for a parking pass and you can’t get access, and the reason you can’t get access is because there [are] illegal parkers there.”
Button added that, as far as the administration can gather, the higher numbers of illegal parkers in question don’t have parking passes.
“We had people circling and cycling for a long time, saying, ‘I can’t get into my stall. I’ve paid for an M pass and I can’t get in. I’ve tried this lot and that lot,’” he said. “And they were absolutely right.”
The change in fines, Button added, is an attempt to get students to make “behavioural” changes – to find alternatives to parking in M-class lots, or to find alternatives for getting towards campus. As examples, he pointed out the increase in bus routes to campus in recent years, as well as the university’s investment in bike racks for the front of some of the buses, the purchase of additional bike racks on campus and proposed bike paths.
But URSU sees the issue of illegal parking as symptomatic of larger transportation issues. Raising ticket fines is, so to speak, putting the car before the stalls.
“Using the university’s own numbers, last year about four per cent of the stalls on campus were unavailable to pass-holding students due to illegal parkers,” Peterson pointed out. “This year, the U of R’s enrolment is up 11 per cent, plus a few hundred students from the new Faculty of Nursing, plus more and more residence students require parking stalls. This all means that even if every single one of the illegal parkers were deterred by a stiff parking ticket fee, there still would be nowhere near enough stalls for students.”
Moreover, URSU’s position is, for students who want to change their behaviour, those other options simply aren’t good enough. Peterson claims other work towards opening up more parking on campus is insufficient and far from timely.
“The U of R will often cite their strategic plan, which is fine,” he said. “But students need bus service now, not just ten years from now.”
What improvements the university does have planned – including a new parking lot scheduled for 2013 – won’t be paid for by the increase in parking fines. It’s “not a money grab,” according to Button.
Instead, the U of R’s total take from the new fines will remain at $7.03 per ticket, the amount agreed upon when the City of Regina, which handles ticket stock and processing for the U of R, updated its ticketing processes in 2008.
Regardless of profit, however, parking fines don’t pay for campus parking improvements. Profits the sale of parking passes, which will increase in cost by four per cent each year for the next three years, go into a parking trust, and that’s where the money for improvements comes from.
Both Button and Peterson clarified that the $419,000 profit margin of Parking and Transportation Services went elsewhere into the Ancillary Services portion of the U of R’s budget – namely, into subsidizing the money-losing divisions, Food Services and Residence.
It’s URSU’s suggestion of what to do with Parking and Transportation Services’ profit instead of subsidizing Food Services that ultimately casts this issue into relief. The students’ union’s campaign materials state Parking Services’ profits could buy 8,000 bus passes, presumably at the City of Regina’s standard-student rate.
In fact, the administration and URSU both told the Carillon they are in communication with the City of Regina in order to improve public transit. Button maintains the administration’s talks with the City of Regina to improve transit services still involve the hopeful creation of a universal campus transit pass, such as the proposed 2009 U-Pass, which failed when it came to referendum.
“There’s still an interest from the city and the city administration,” Button said. “But it’s the students’ choice on that.”
In the end, URSU and the U of R’s administration actually agree there’s a problem on campus; what they disagree on is where the responsibility lies for fixing it. The students’ union’s message to the administration is clear: deliver what you’ve promised and fix the inadequacies in parking and transportation before raising parking fines.
The administration’s message to the students’ union, however, is equally clear: the options are there and you can find ways to fix the problems yourselves.
With files from Martin Weaver.
Hit Us On Twitter
We asked our Twitter followers how satisfied they are with Parking and Transportation Services. Here’s what they had to say:
satisfied enough that I'm going in tomorrow to get a parking pass 🙂
i don't drive but I am pretty sure that Luther won't be happy anymore
Better here than at the U of A that's for sure.
not very satisfied. Most student use M permits so why aren't there for spots for M? What's hotel guest parking for anyways..
I know people who have actually said, "no I can't take that class at that time because there will be no where to park!"
Easy solution: Pass the UPASS, get students bussing more.
Want to weigh in on this issue via Twitter? Follow @the_carillon and tweet at us with #URParking.