Fewer U ramps offer free evening parking as budgets tighten

Angela Delmedico

Weekend and evening parking policy changes could inconvenience some students.

Last year, six University parking ramps offered free parking between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. Monday through Saturday and all day Sunday. This year, only three ramps will offer free parking.

The East Bank’s Fourth Street ramp, West Bank’s 21st Avenue ramp and St. Paul’s Gortner Avenue ramp will continue to offer free evening and Sunday parking.

For some students who use the free night and Sunday parking, having only one location for free parking on the East Bank means longer walks to the car.

“The Washington Avenue Ramp is at the heart of the campus,” said Yucheng Hou, graduate student in the aerospace engineering and mechanics department.

Hou has used the free evening parking program in the Washington Avenue ramp four or five times per week for nearly a year. He said the Fourth Street ramp is less convenient for him, and he does not look forward to trudging the extra distance through the snow and ice this winter.

Jun Tang, an electrical engineering graduate student, agreed. Tang said safety is a concern for some students, especially when studying until midnight.

“My female friends feel unsafe walking at night from the campus to the Fourth Street ramp,” Tang said.

The reasons for the policy change include state budget cuts, less demand for parking because of the U-Pass program’s growth and the high construction costs of building ramps on campus, said Lori Ann Vicich, marketing manager of Parking and Transportation Services.

“There were a lot of reasons, but it all boils down to money,” she said.

Although Parking and Transportation Services is not centrally funded, state budget cuts had a great impact on the entire campus. This resulted in leaner financial times for Parking and Transportation Services, Vicich said.

The ramps participating in the program typically generate less revenue and have more availability, Vicich said, which is why they remain in the free parking program.