ComJour333 Story #5: Demographics/Trend

Pain in the Parking Lot: WSU students fret over the price to park

By: Zack Menchel

Pullman, Wash. Owning a car in college is a privilege, but recent increases in parking permit costs and zone changes are making it quite the hassle for many WSU students and staff members alike on a daily basis.

According to Parking and Transportation Services, the price for a blue lot permit increased 78 percent between 2004 and 2013, 57 percent for yellow, and 14 percent for gray and red.

Annual parking permits at WSU are broken down into seven color-coded categories designated by color names with Blue being the cheapest and Orange being the most expensive.

Raising prices for parking is detrimental to college students and their families whom already pay out of pocket for expenses such as tuition, textbooks, food, and gas.

The issue becomes more problematic when Transportation Services fails to make the reasoning for their constant price hikes publicly available and improvements are often not visually evident.

WSU students such as Andrew Chamberlin are then left to wonder precisely how their hard earned money is being spent.

“Honestly, I do not even know where all the money we pay for parking goes,” said Chamberlin.

“The lines for spaces where you’re actually designated to park in some lots have disappeared due to lack of maintenance to snow and gravel.”

The transportation department is also independent from the university, meaning they do not receive any funding.

This leads to a department designated pricing system for parking lots, garages, and sports events.

It currently costs up to $30 to park in lots for Cougar football games alone.

The annual fluctuation in parking prices and general lack of information regarding changes is what caught the eye of a group of WSU students who hope to make a difference in the system.

WSU Parking Initiative is a small grassroots organization recently formed by five Pullman-based students seeking to provide their peers with a more extensive outline regarding parking updates at the university.

One of those students is senior Stephanie Long who said the group hopes to bring awareness of parking issues to the WSU community.

“We realized that parking prices seem outrageously high for a university located in such a small town,” said Long.

“Collectively, our group really wants to know where all of our money is being used by Transportation Services and when changes are made to parking facilities.”

According to the WSU Parking Initiative’s website, unannounced lot color changes have been a troubling practice. “Recently a Blue parking lot was changed to Gray without notifying pass-holders, “ the site reads.

“This meant individuals who purchased a Blue parking lot pass for that specific area were unable to use it and they had to either purchase a Gray lot pass or park elsewhere.

Neglecting to alert students to changes of this magnitude resulted in the issuing of steep parking tickets upwards of fifty dollars.

WSU Parking Initiative’s site also compares parking rates at WSU to five other major collegiate institutions in the state of Washington.

Their findings concluded that WSU’s rates are shockingly high when compared to other schools located in small towns such as Pullman.

For example, WSU’s annual parking rate of $70-604 dwarfs Eastern Washington University’s $94-221 range as well as Central Washington University’s $80-204 rate.

Another founder of WSU Parking Initiative, Kyle Toyra, said that the group’s efforts have been paying off thus far.

He says the group has collected fifty signatures on their petition and hundreds of participants in a survey on their website since it went online on Friday.

“It just shows that people are actually paying attention and care what’s going on around our campus as well as awareness of the difference they can make,” said Toyra.

“Having enough people sign the petition might make Transportation Services consider making vital parking information more readily available to students.”

Long said she hopes Transportation Services will listen to the student voice and prove their parking prices are fair and reasonable.

“They hold a monopoly over on-campus parking and provide no evidence that the services they provide are sufficient or reasonable,” she said.

“We are fighting to make that evidence public.”

When asked on how he thinks the transportation department will respond to the group’s efforts,

“I believe they will try to stonewall us just like they have done previously to ASWSU,” said Toyra.

“It’s definitely going to be an uphill battle, but we’re willing to fight it out with the help of our peers and the WSU community as a whole.”

For more information on WSU Parking Initiative’s efforts, visit their website: wsuparking.wix.com.

Sources:

    Name: Andrew Chamberlin
    Contact: andrew.chamberlin@email.wsu.edu

    Name: Stephanie Long
    Contact: stephanie.long100@email.wsu.edu

    Name: Kyle Toyra
    Contact: kyle.toyra@email.wsu.edu

    WSU Parking Initiative Website: http://wsuparking.wix.com/wsuparkinginitiative

    Outline

      I). Scope of the Issue
      · What Is Happening
      · WSU Parking Situation
      · Effect On Students
      II). What Needs to be Done/Opinion
      · Chamberlin Student Reaction
      · Transportation Department Pricing
      · Action/Issues
      III). WSU Parking Initiative
      · Long perspective
      · Website
      · Toyra Perspective
      IV). Closing Remarks

      Video Excerpt of Kyle Toyra Interview:

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