The campus is landlocked and parking is limited. With a student population that continues to swell the university had to figure out a way to deal with a growing parking problem.
Their solution was to introduce parking fees, a plan that has students and staff expressing their concerns.
As previously announced, residents with cars will be charged $400 per year, or $200 per semester. In previous years, parking for students was included in tuition. Now, it’s an additional fee.
Matt Packey, the university’s chief financial officer and vice president of administration, confirmed that parking fees collected “will go into the general fund of the university,” the same as tuition and room and board. “For individuals who elect to bring a vehicle to campus, the fee will be billed to their student account. A student who elects to bring a vehicle to campus pays the fee and those who do not bring a vehicle do not pay a fee.”
“The fees are meant to motivate individuals to strongly consider whether… a vehicle is truly a necessity for them or not,” said Packey. “And whether alternative forms of transportation are an option for them.”
The university CFO said he hopes that “The $400 in savings can be used for alternative transportation options such as Uber, Lyft, CATS buses, car pools, bike shares, etc. for the occasional transportation needs.”
Along with the new parking fees the university will also be launching a new software for parking. Upperclassmen will register their vehicles online through a system called Cardinal Tracking. That service will be available at the end of April or beginning of May, and will handle parking registration, ticket appeals and management of the lots, among other things.
Incoming freshmen who believe they need a car can ask for an exception, but only after upperclassmen have had two weeks to register.
The parking fee must be paid upfront, at the time that the student registers the vehicle, said Richard Smith, the university’s parking and transportation coordinator. Students this spring have a choice of paying for one or two semesters as they register. Payment can be made directly through the registration system or students can elect to be billed to their student account that is handled by financial services.
Registration may still be available during the summer months, but space is limited, so students who want to bring their cars are encouraged to register as soon as possible.
Ray Thrower, assistant vice president of public safety and campus police, confirmed again that first-year students are not allowed cars. He added that reserved spots for faculty are also being eliminated. Thrower said there will be some medical and work exceptions for first-year students, based on letters from doctors and employers.
All who have permission to have a car will be assigned areas where they can park.
Next year, the Byrum parking deck will be for residential students, North deck and soccer lot for staff, and surface lots — along with spaces on roads Wellesley, Radcliff, and Selwyn — will be for commuters. Currently, Queens has 1,200 parking spots and has issued decals for 2,400 vehicles. It can issue more decals than spaces available at once because commuters come and go throughout the day.
Thrower says that the Public Safety/Campus Police and Parking & Transportation teams communicate with the admissions office to know the numbers of incoming students, but this year, they were caught off-guard. “Because we had the largest freshmen class, we did a guestimate on spaces,” Thrower said. With a growing number of students and limited space, questions and concerns on how to solve the issue and alleviate the parking situation persist.
SGA will be hosting a Town Hall on parking issues tonight at 5 p.m. in the Duke Energy Auditorium. Food will be provided.