New parking fee will supplement parking garage costs

Student fees, here we go again.

Starting in the fall 2008 semester, a new $10 transportation fee will be added for all students enrolled in three or more credits. The fee, which was proposed by Bob McDonnell, director of UAA Parking Services, has been instated to cover most of the operation cost of the Seawolf Shuttle as well as the total cost of the contract with People Mover, which allows students to ride the city bus system for free by showing their Wolfcards.

The fee was approved by both USUAA and Club Council.

Seth Holtshouser, a USUAA senator, said he was concerned about the students who do utilize the transit system and, though he opposed adding another student fee, he didn’t want to lose services that benefit the UAA community.

“When the transportation fee was proposed to student government, I felt that the shuttle system and bus service would be shut down if the fee was not passed,” Holtshouser said

According to People Mover statistics, students rode the People Mover a total of 255,763 times in 2007. Mark Findlay, UAA transportation supervisor, said that 135,992 rides were taken on the UAA shuttle during Fall 2007 and Spring 2008 semesters.

The funding that has been used for the shuttle – which costs $250,000 per year – and the contract with People Mover, which costs $80,000 annually, will now go towards the building expense of the new parking garage required for the Integrated Science Building.

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The Municipality of Anchorage requires one parking space for every 300 gross square feet of building space. The size of the ISB would equal roughly 400 new parking spaces that need to be added before the building can legally open.

“There was a limited amount of money that could be used to build (the ISB), and so the garage was not included in the ISB building plan,” McDonnell said. “The new parking garage is going to cost $840,000 a year for 25 years.”

A transportation fee is not a new UA development. UAF students, enrolled in four or more credits, pay $13 per semester for shuttle operation. The addition of the transportation fee will bring the total amount of fees paid by a UAA student taking 12 or more credits to $280. UA faculty and staff are not required to pay the transportation fee, but they are required to purchase parking permits.

In an attempt to find new ways to find funding, Parking Services will run a pilot advertising program for the fall semester, in which three businesses will pay to have ads or coupons placed on the back of the “Pay and Park” receipts to help cover the cost of the receipt paper. McDonnell said the pilot program businesses will include Qdoba, the campus bookstore and possibly Subway.