After two-month stint of 'free parking,' fees return
By Joey McClure, For The Miami Student
Miami's parking garages will begin charging customers for use again this week after being out of operation for months. New equipment has been installed at the gates, accepting only credit cards now.
Ben Spilman, director of transportation and parking services, said the gates had been delayed longer due to technical problems with the credit card systems.
"When we endeavored to update this equipment, we upgraded from some antiquated equipment to some pretty modern stuff," said Spilman. "We are using technology that we have not yet used on campus."
Spilman is talking about the more secure credit card machine now operating on gates.
"Credit card processing has to meet the highest and most current security standards," said Spilman.
Due to the delay in opening the gates, Spilman estimates the university lost about $65,000 between August and October from the two garages.
Prices have also changed. They will vary for the two parking garages with the North garage listing at $1.50 per hour and the South listing at $1.00 per hour.
The project to change the transaction systems at the parking garages was not completed by the end of summer.
"We had to make a decision at the beginning of the semester that we knew this wasn't going to be ready," Spilman said. "It didn't seem like a very a good use of the university's resources to let that space sit empty."
Spilman decided to allow students and visitors to use the parking garages for free while the systems were replaced. For the months that the gates were free, students took advantage of the free parking services, but now that the project is complete, some are upset with its prices.
"I definitely took advantage of the gates being down," said senior Damien Coakley, who lives off campus and uses the garages while he attends class. "I used the garages last year, and the prices weren't bad. The hourly rates are not bad now, but the parking passes are outrageous."
Semester-long parking passes for the parking garage are now $495.
"The intended purpose of parking garages are not meant to be for students to drive to class," said Spilman. "It's really so people who don't have a parking permit and are coming to campus can have a place to park without worrying about getting a ticket."
Regardless, students still use these parking garages, and now that the prices are going up, they are reconsidering its use.
"This is definitely going to make me reconsider whether I should take my car on campus or not," said sophomore Kaitlyn Molhoek. "We are college students. We don't really have room for parking in our budget."
Parking services also wanted to update the gates to improve efficiency at the garages' exit by making the transactions credit card -only.
"We found that cash transactions in the exit lane of the garage were one of the real slow-downs," said Spilman. "They caused a lot of the backups in the garages because they either were looking for a coin or had to add more."
Students can still pay with cash using a "pay-on-foot" machine located on the entry level of each garage. There are plans to change the system in the future.
"Some of the plans we have for the future of this setup is to use the university's ID cards for entry and exit," said Spilman.