ASU's Tempe campus parking structures stopped offering free parking for visitors on weekends starting July 16. Previously, all Tempe campus parking garages were free on non-event weekends.
A July 5 announcement of the change from ASU Business and Finance attributed the adjustment to “more activity around the Tempe campus over the past few years."
The announcement also said that charging to park in the structures 24/7 would allow for better tracking of weekend activity, cover garage maintenance and repairs expenses, upgraded technology and other program enhancements. It would also improve event planning and provide additional accountability within campus parking facilities, the announcement said.
ASU spokesperson Jay Thorne added that the adjustment is also to mitigate "incidents in the garages on the weekends and specifically thefts of auto parts (catalytic converters)," which have increased in the past year.
The Parking and Transit Services daily and hourly parking website says weekend garage parking rates will be the same as weekday parking. Visitors will pay $4 for up to an hour of parking and up to $16 for a maximum of four hours, the website said.
Prior to mid-2020, visitor rates were $3 for up to an hour of parking and up to $15 for a maximum of four hours.
Permit holders will still be able to access their assigned garage on weekends without additional charges, the announcement said.
Students were quick to voice their concerns with the new system, several taking to Reddit to discuss the change.
“It’s a blatant cash grab on ASU’s part,” said Patrick Hays, a Ph.D. student studying materials science and engineering. “They just raised the hourly rate, so where’s that money going to?”
Thorne said no tuition dollars or other University funds are used to fund Parking and Transit Services; all its revenue is reinvested into operations. These include shuttle services and subsidized public transit passes, Thorne said.
There are options in a range of prices available for students in need of parking or transportation services, Thorne said. ASU offers a U-Pass for Valley Metro bus and light rail, which costs $150 per academic year and allows unlimited rides. Nearby Park-and-Ride locations are free to park in and board buses or light rail from there, too, he said.
Zak Gutzwiler, a senior studying film media production and a Herberger Senator for Tempe Undergraduate Student Government, said he intends to introduce legislation to USGT in response to the change.
The legislation would “better advance the idea of weekend and night permits," he said. Thorne said the University is not considering weekend or night permits as an option at this time.
“It negatively impacts I and many other film and theatre students since many of our productions happen outside of academic hours. As late as 11 o’clock or midnight and all day on weekends,” Gutzwiler said.
“There’s an additional garage (Mill Avenue parking structure) being built for upwards of $42 million, so I question that they need that funding for additional technology if we’re able to fund new construction,” Gutzwiler said.
ASU began working on the Mill Avenue parking structure in June and is scheduled to complete it in July 2023, the project website said. It will also require payment to park on weekends when completed in 2023, Thorne said.
The adjustment includes all ASU parking garages on the Tempe campus. Parking lots on all four campuses require paying to park 24/7, however, weekend staff shortages have visitors on the "honor system to pay to park on weekends," Thorne said.
Jasmine Kabiri is a managing editor at The State Press, overseeing and editing stories produced by the six digital desks. She has previously worked as a news intern at the Daily Camera in Boulder, Colorado.