Cost of Campus Parking Permits May Increase

The cost of parking permits could rise next year — a result of the UCSD Transportation and Parking Services’ $3 million funding deficit. After a $25 student fee designed to fund UCSD’s ailing shuttle service was rejected by the student council in February, the Transportation Policy committee looks to tighten parking regulations through a series of policy changes this week, including the elimination of free weekend parking between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

“They expect to make about $250,000 a year from that move,” A.S. Transfer Senator and Transportation Policy Committee member Adam Powers said.

If Vice Chancellor of Resource Management and Planning Gary Matthews approves the proposal, the department will also increase the cost of short-term parking permits. The occasional-use “S” student parking permit or “S” permit — good for 10 days of parking — is expected to increase by $10, as well as quarterly night and weekend permits. The cost of one-day parking permits would increase from $8 to $9 and $3 to $5.

“Right now, it’s parking money that pays for the shuttle service,” TPS Director Brian d’Autremont said. “It’s also the parking money that pays for Metropolitan Transit Service bus route. So basically, the additional money would go toward people riding buses.”

D’Autremont said that higher enrollment — as well as an expected increase in the cost of ridership on MTS buses — prompted the department to seek new sources of revenue.

“We really do try hard to keep prices down, recognizing tuition is going up and everything else,” d’Autremont said. “It’s going to be a constant struggle with the budget system. But at least what we’re doing is keeping pollution out of the air.”

Additionally, the committee has proposed the creation of “premium parking lots” within structures like Pangea and the Sixth College lot, where people would pay more to park in reserved spots.

Powers said that higher parking prices will likely push drivers towards public transportation, thus defeating the purpose of the price increase.

“If they go from the people paying into the system to the people using the resources of a system, you’re sort of being hit twice,” Powers said.

The department is also considering cutting from the MTS subsidies, which allow students to ride city buses at a free or significantly decreased price.

Powers said that a large number of low-income students depend on the MTS buses to get to campus, and are therefore opposed to this proposal.

One other suggestion has been to cut from campus shuttle services, which cost about $5 million per year to run. Roughly 5,000 people use the shuttles daily — which is 2,600 more than the ridership of five years ago.

D’Autremont said that, although the MTS and shuttle cuts would generate enough revenue to eliminate the $3 million deficit in about a year, the department is looking to changes in the parking system before any reduction in public transportation.

D’Autremont said that if the proposal to increase the cost of parking permits is not accepted by Matthews, and no changes are made, the department would be forced to reduce shuttle services.

“Since we don’t have funding from anything else, all we can do is cut costs or increase revenue,” d’Autremont said. “The only revenue comes from parking, so that’s the only revenue we can increase — unless we have an agreement to charge for public transportation.”

The numbers of shuttles and employees in the department were already decreased significantly over the past year. D’Autremont said he has cut 19 out of 100 employees who were on the permanent payroll.

“We used to run 52 buses, but now we only run 40, and we haul 2,500 extra people a day,” D’Autremont said.

According to d’Autremont, the only alternative to cutting services or increasing permit costs would be to re-introduce the proposed $25 Transportation Referendum — which was defeated last quarter by councilmembers hoping to find alternate forms of funding for the department.

D’Autremont said he does not know if another referendum is likely in the future.

“I thought that … after working for three full years with three different A.S. governments, that we had a wonderful chance at going forward,” d’Autremont said. “What we have asked from Transportation Services is that Associated Students let the student body vote on it. I don’t think this is something that should be shut down at the A.S. government level.”

The next TPC meeting will take place during Fall Quarter, when the committee will decide whether to go ahead with the proposed changes in service services or continue to pursue a student fee referendum.

Readers can contact Jerry To at [email protected].

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