Campus parking rates set to increase twice by October

by Justin Ware

Tuition is not the only thing students will soon be paying more for: Parking rates will also increase twice in the next four months. This is the second set of increases in as many years.

Starting July 1, students parking in lots that now cost $2.75 a day can expect to pay $3 a day. Two lots considered “premium daily lots” will see a 50-cent increase to $4.25 per day.

The July increases are the first of two rate changes. The second jump will occur Oct. 1 and affect ramp, garage and surface lot monthly contract parking.

The $1.50 per day rate for carpool lots will not change.

The increase in parking fees will cover a number of student, faculty and visitor-related transportation needs the University Department of Parking and Transportation oversees.

Dennis Miller, director of finance for parking and transportation, said the increased fees will cover services such as snow plowing, safety monitoring and department employee salaries.

In addition, the fees will help cover the $93 million debt Parking and Transportation has accrued since 1999 with three major parking structure projects.

The three projects are the already complete Gortner Avenue Ramp in St. Paul and the University Avenue Ramp across from Williams Arena. The third parking facility is the East River Road Ramp currently under construction as part of the Riverbend Commons project.

“Structure parking is 10 to 30 times the cost of surface lots,” Miller said of the difference in cost between parking structures such as ramps and garages, and the less space-efficient surface parking lots.

Miller noted that in areas where space is limited, such as the University, trends are going toward building structures that better utilize land.

“Surface lots are going away,” he said.

Some University parking facility tenants said they don’t believe the increase in fees will make a large difference in the availability of parking.

“Everybody would like to see closer parking,” said second-year dental student James Purdy, “(but) that’s not going to happen.”

“For my contract spot, (the services are) adequate,” Purdy said of the University’s parking facilities. “I don’t see any need to raise prices.”

Between the University’s Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses, Parking and Transportation owns and operates roughly 19,200 spaces. Of those spaces 9,660 are contract spots.

In addition to the maintenance of existing parking and construction of new facilities, a portion of the parking fees goes to the inter-campus bus system.

The Department of Parking and Transportation Services is self-supporting and draws its funds solely from its parking tenant fees.