Campus parking permits become more pricey

This semester, UAA students may want to consider putting air in their bicycle tires, finding a bus stop near their homes or arranging for carpools to campus.

The price of a UAA parking permit has gone up, and some students might find the raised rates prompt them to explore alternatives to driving their own vehicles.

The price for a yellow permit, which allows for parking all day in all lots on campus, has increased $50 for an overall rate of $180. Platinum permits, which include admission into the parking garage near the Consortium Library as well as all-day parking in all lots, have also increased $50. Green permits, which allow a vehicle to be parked between 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in all lots, have increased $30 for annual permits and $25 for semester permits.

Bill Spindle, director of business services at UAA, said that despite recent increases, parking at UAA is inexpensive compared to other universities.

“You’ll find that our prices are cheaper than just about anybody in a university environment,” Spindle said.

Parking-permit fees at public universities in the United States vary. The price of an annual permit at the University of Washington, Seattle is $1,019, while the price of an annual permit at the University of Alaska Fairbanks is $124.

Spindle said parking fees are used to pay for all maintenance on lots, including snow removal and maintenance equipment, as well as for the campus shuttle service.

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Permit sales also fund the service that allows students to ride People Mover buses free of charge.

Sandy Snethen, office coordinator for parking services at UAA, said many students who have purchased permits from the parking services office have not mentioned the increased rates.

“Honestly, I don’t know if students have noticed,” Snethen said. “So many of them just use their credit cards or Wolfcards and don’t check the price.”

The last time fees for permits increased was three years ago. Spindle said permit prices are usually raised every three years in order to keep pace with growing maintenance costs.

“It’s a difficult situation, trying to keep the prices down when costs keep going up,” Spindle said.

Snethen said the number of permits purchased each year remains about the same, despite growing enrollment numbers.

“Sometimes we’ll see a small drop after fees are raised, but, in general, it stays the same,” Snethen said.

UAA student Fari Jure said he thinks permit prices were already high, and the increase makes them even more so.

“I think it’s ridiculous, what they expect students to pay for parking,” Jure said. “It sucks.”

Jure said he finds places to park off campus and walks to his classes because buying a permit would cost too much money.

Brittany Keenhold, also a UAA student, said she also finds permit prices to be cost-prohibitive. Keenhold said she chose to park at meters last semester rather than spring for a permit.

“Last year, I added it up and figured out it was cheaper to park at meters for the amount of time I was on campus than it was to buy a permit,” Keenhold said.

Spindle said the number of alternatives to driving will increase in coming semesters, and he encourages students to take advantage of new transportation services.

New programs include a van service, which should appeal to students who commute from the Matanuska Valley, as well as a share-a-ride service through People Mover that will allow students to connect with others in their area to form carpools.

“If you and two or three other students want to share a car, we can set up Share-A-Ride through People Mover,” Spindle said. “We will have parking spaces set aside for those students, and they can share a permit. People Mover will set you up by computer with other people in your area.”

Spindle said a People Mover van will be setting up outside the campus bookstore to give students more information about their transportation options.

The university will also set up temporary permit stations so that students and visitors can pay for parking at an hourly rate. Spindle said the permit stations would replace meters in most of the lots.

At this time the only plans for additional parking on campus are for a multilevel garage to be built near the Integrated Science Building.

Building additional parking lots on campus is a last resort, Spindle said.

“The problem is expense; it’s huge,” Spindle said. “A typical garage costs between $15 million to $20 million. We’d rather put that into a building than a garage that holds cars. New parking also takes up valuable land.”

Spindle said administrators will continue to find programs that offer students convenient alternatives to driving.

“One of the problems we find is that students just don’t know their options,” Spindle said. “We are going to be making a big effort to get that information out there.”