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ASU parking garages upgraded and prices increase

Jeff McSpadden pays for parking in the University Center parking garage on the Downtown Phoenix campus on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016.

Jeff McSpadden pays for parking in the University Center parking garage on the Downtown Phoenix campus on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016.

For the past two years, Parking and Transit Services was working on upgrading parking structures throughout the University, adding upgraded facilities, upgraded payment options and, yes, upgraded prices.

The upgraded facilities allow for mixed use between visitor parking and permit holders in order to increase the availability of parking spaces for hourly users. It also upgraded the payment options for visitors, allowing both students and visitors to pay at kiosks.

Originally only three structures, Packard Drive South, ASU Fulton Center and University Center, allowed for mixed visitor and permit holder parking. Now eight of the nine structures on the Downtown and Tempe campuses are open for mixed use.

Shereen Shaw, PTS communications specialist, said the garages now have more streamlined technology with updated equipment at the gates.

“The different payment options make it more convenient for people to have more choices when it comes to how they want to park and how they want to pay for their parking," Shaw said. 

Although these steps were taken to create more parking options on campus, students are still concerned that there isn’t enough being done with the growing enrollment rates at ASU.

“I do know we're going to have even further parking issues with (ASU) President Crow trying to get 60,000 kids by 2020, and that’s going to jack up prices even more,” Kyle Helmle, finance, accounting and computer information systems senior, said. “I don’t see the infrastructure working out.” 

He also said he thinks that ASU needs more parking garages if not on campus, then near campus.

In 2015, there were more than 8,000 students enrolled at ASU than there were in 2014, and that number is only rising. According to the Tempe Master Plan, the University is predicting that around 60,000 students will be living on Tempe campus by 2020.

Along with needing more parking structures, students like Helmle said they were curious why the daily/hourly rates of parking garages increased from last year.

Shaw explains that the prices were fixed in order for them to be the same across all four campuses.

“We just adjusted the hourly parking rates to be in line across all four campuses,” Shaw said. “Whether a visitor or a Sun Devil who chooses not to purchase a permit and pays for the parking just by the day or by the hour when they need it, they’ll know more what to expect in terms as what payment is required."

She said that understanding will be there because parking will be standardized from visitor lot to visitor lot.

For lots like Apache Boulevard and Rural Road in Tempe, the hourly rate increased this school year because the enhancements to the structure were just completed a month ago. The rates are now $3 an hour and $12 max for the day rate.

According to Shaw, the rates for hourly parking and permit holders are determined by a number of factors. PTS looks at what other PAC 12 schools are charging and at the Arizona Board of Regents standards. ABOR has a list of schools that are similar to ASU in size and location which helps PTS determine a rate for ASU.

“We're right on par with those, in fact we kind of come just below the average of when you look at all those other schools prices,” Shaw said.

However, some students like Alec Yurcak, business communications junior, question whether parking fees would be better included in tuition.

“Honestly, it’s frustrating as a student to have to pay all this tuition money and then you have to go on campus and pay extra fees for what could possibly be free,” Yurcak said.

Approximately 20 percent of the students on campus are permit holders, and the exact amount of students using visitor parking is unknown. However, Shaw said PTS feels it’s unfair to charge students a parking fee who don’t choose to park on campus.

"If you choose to park, you’ll choose to pay,” Shaw said.

In 2015, there were 91,322 students enrolled in ASU. If 20 percent of those, which is roughly 18,000 students, bought parking permits at the cheapest price, that would be over $3 million made in the year, not counting visitor/hourly rates and more expensive permit options.

The money that is collected from the parking garage fees and permits is reinvested into various transportation services at ASU.

PTS provides the free intercampus shuttles, the discounted metro bus and rail transit passes, bike valet services, the flash shuttles that circulate the Tempe campus, maintenance and upkeep of the parking facilities and other expenses that go into running a department. Outside of PTS, the money goes to the Disability Resource Center and helps fund student initiatives.

“All of those various alternate forms of transportation — we have to fund those,” Shaw said.

Some students have sought out their own forms of parking farther from campus but cheaper in price.

Tanner Fonseca, business analytics graduate student, began parking at the Graduate off of Apache Blvd to avoid paying for ASU parking. He found out that the Graduate offers permit passes by getting a tow notice after parking there for free. The Graduate informed him that they offer passes and bought a parking pass for $300 for the semester. 

Olivia Gran, business management senior, had a similar idea, parking at the Lutheran church near Vista Del Sol and paying $150 per semester to do so. She added that she can also write the parking off on her tax forms, further reducing the parking.

“I think it's too expensive," Gran said. "It's convenient that you get to park right near campus, but at the same time it’s not that much effort to walk a little bit farther."

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