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Video | Parking garage permit requires purchase of campus pass, prices increase

By Adam Giffi
On August 25, 2011

Economy down, prices up. At least that's the issue for students looking to park in garages on Miami's campus this school year.

Vanessa Cummings, assistant director of Parking and Transportation Services, explained the policy.

"Any student who is eligible for a parking pass can purchase garage access for the North Campus Garage or the Campus Avenue Garage as well," Cummings said. "This fall 2011 semester, in order to do so, you must first purchase a colored surface lot pass to be able to purchase garage access."

Miami University Police Department Lt. Ben Spilman said people used to be able to purchase an access card without a registered vehicle.

"We saw a lot of issues that came to our attention through the appeals committee of people appealing parking citations because they believed their car was registered because of their garage access card," Spilman said. "This is when we started to realize the policy needed to be tweaked."

According to Spilman, the now required purchase of a surface lot pass will result in the vehicle also being registered and receiving a decal or hang-tag. This registration provides Parking and Transportation Services the ability to identify vehicle owners and their parking privileges. Students can then choose to purchase garage access cards in addition.

Spilman said this policy was adopted rather than creating a new class of colored passes solely for parking garages because Parking and Transportation Services wanted to maintain garage access as a separate addition.

"We do not want to create more levels of parking privileges," Spilman said. "The ones that exist currently for students, faculty and staff have proven to be pretty adequate."

According to Cummings, the garage permits cost $150 per semester for daytime access from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. the following morning, up $50 from 2010-11, and $420 per semester for 24-hour access to the garages, an increase of $120 from 2010-11.

In the most expensive scenario, an on-campus junior or senior with a blue pass will pay a total of $265 per semester for daytime garage access, up from the $100 it cost last year.

Despite the new rules, Cummings said that demand has been as high as ever since passes went on sale Aug. 1.

"The North Campus Garage is on a waiting list level and at the Campus Avenue Garage we have just a few more spaces available," Cummings said.

Senior Andy Miller, who is on the waiting list for the North Campus Garage, is unhappy with the way pass disbursement was handled.

"Students were unaware of when passes were available," Miller said. "I got here a week before school started and they were already taken. I think there should be a set date and everyone should be made aware of it, and juniors and seniors should have first pick."

Cummings explained that those on the waiting list would receive a spot if any students decide that they do not want a pass, such as if they transfer from Miami.

While the North Garage has a total of 660 spaces and the Campus Avenue Garage has 600, according to Cummings, not all of these spaces will be used for permit parking. Spaces will be left open in both garages for anyone to be able to park for an hourly rate, from students to visitors. Beginning July 1, the hourly rate rose from a flat rate of 50 cents per hour to a rate of $1.00 for the first hour, plus an additional 50 cents for each subsequent hour. The daily maximum also doubled from $5 to $10.

According to Cummings, the semester and annual rates represent a significant deal for students despite the price hikes.

"Realistically, our rates are not very high," Cummings said. "If you took the hourly rate and apply it to the amount of usage people get out of the pass, we are giving these passes away."

Despite the high volume of garage passes and the waiting lists, Spilman said there have been some complaints.

"There have been a few students that I have seen correspondences from that have indicated that they would rather not purchase a parking permit for a surface lot and as a result have given up their garage access card," Spilman said. "There have only been a handful, maybe 10, who have indicated that. They are still welcome to pay the hourly rate when need be."

However, Miller also finds it aggravating to pay an increased hourly rate, especially after he was unable to obtain a parking pass.

"I planned on getting a parking pass because I am a senior living off campus and I have a lunch break from 10:45 to 12:20 that I would have gone home for," Miller said. "But now that I get double charged for the first hour every time I enter the garage, I'm essentially stranded at the business school for an hour and a half."

Ultimately, Cummings said that Parking and Transportation Services strives to be accommodating and that parking is a unique consideration for each individual.

"People truly like the convenience of our pass options," Cummings said. "But you have a choice on what you purchase and therefore what you pay on parking and you can also choose to park legally or not. We do not force passes on anyone but we do encourage students that do drive on campus to park legally and choose the parking permit option that best suits their needs."

For Miller, that may mean avoiding parking on campus at all.

"It's unfortunate that off-campus students who really need the passes to get to class are not given a fair opportunity to get them," he said.

Additional reporting by Hunter Stenback

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