Sunday, January 26

Editorial: UCLA must make reasonably priced parking available to students

For commuter students, having affordable transportation is not just a convenience it’s a necessity.

Of the total student population at UCLA, around 25 percent of all students undergraduate and graduate alike commute to campus. Many commuter students do so to cut down on costs, usually by living outside of pricey Westwood.

Unfortunately, parking on UCLA’s campus is outrageously unaffordable, and continues to constitute a significant, unwarranted financial burden for these students. In order to retain students who have to commute to the university, UCLA should lower student parking prices below the rates that professional staff have to pay.

With commuter parking passes costing $231 a quarter, full-time students will spend roughly $700 a year to park on campus. Assuming a four-year graduation rate, the total cost amounts to $2,800 for parking over the course of an undergraduate education.

Currently, students pay as much for parking as faculty or staff. That fact alone is ridiculous students are already paying tuition, while faculty and staff are getting paid to come to campus.

Moreover, students who may only come to campus a couple days a week are faced with high pay-by-space prices, in which students can pay to park for a couple of hours, rather than buy a costly pass.

The problem with these is that pay spaces are few and far between, cropping up in small sections in Parking Structures 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 and Sunset Village, as well as Lot 11 and behind the UCLA School of Law. A day pass can cost anywhere from $12-20, depending on the lot, and students must pay for a whole day if they’re staying longer than two hours. While this cost is comparable to other universities, a day pass for UC Berkeley students is $10 it’s still too high.

As one of her office’s main platforms, Heather Rosen, the Undergraduate Students Association Council financial support commissioner, has been working alongside UCLA’s Transportation and Parking Services to set up a transportation-based scholarship fund for students. The newly created fund allocates ten $100 scholarships for the year for commuter students.

While that money is well-intentioned and helps commuter students handle the costs of parking, it’s also a drop in the bucket compared to yearly parking fees. One hundred dollars a year comes out to about 14.5 percent of the total cost of parking for one year a helpful boost, but not enough to seriously make a dent in a students’ overall transportation costs, even putting aside the price of gas.

When the scholarship application closed last week, 425 students had applied. With so many students applying and so few receiving support, the burden is greater than what the scholarship has to offer.

But it should be made clear that the responsibility for making parking fees manageable does not lie with Rosen, nor with USAC as a whole; it lies with UCLA Transportation and Parking.

Reasonably priced transportation is one essential component to keeping retention rates high. UCLA owes its students access, whether that’s in the classroom or the driveway.

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  • Guest of a Guest

    Parking costs so much because it is a self-funding operation. No tuition money or UC funds are allocated to Parking and Transportation services. The costs not only cover operations but programs that encourage alternative commuting– surprisingly that seemingly green initiative would likely be something students would rally support behind– unless they actually have to pay for it! It’s no fun for faculty or staff either to pay for permits, but it’s the cost of doing business.

    Students should not be upset about having to pay what is likely NOT the “true costs” of parking and commuting at UCLA. This editorial cannot decry the true costs of car ownership and the perceived costs savings of living off-campus and away from the UCLA/Westwood/Westside area when many people fail to recognize that spending time and money on a car (gas, insurance, wear and tear) might not always be be less than, or equal, to the costs savings on rent. You can pay a little more in rent and live nearby or pay less rent and live far away but spend tons on your commute, health, and sanity. It’s the cost-benefit analysis that all people need to consider, not just students.

  • Romain Wacziarg

    I believe, on the contrary, that parking fees are too low, and that your editorial is misguided. The reason is that UCLA lots are often full. That means there is excess demand, i.e. insufficient supply of parking spaces. If you reduce the price, all you will get are lots that are just as full, but people will be frustrated driving around looking for an open space (a more pronounced shortage). If you really want to reduce parking prices, you need to build more parking. Your editorial would be more constructive if you proposed a location for a massive new parking structure on campus. However, phrased in those terms the editorial would not sound as politically attractive. The problem is that you will encounter a lot of resistance against building new parking structures. First, you don’t want to increase the already considerable traffic flow to our campus. Second, encouraging car use is not exactly a great idea in an age of climate change and air pollution. Third, if you build new parking, that means you are building fewer academic facilities. With overcrowded auditoriums and oversubscribed classes, I rather think the priority should be to build academic facilities. Although personally I would not mind knocking down an athletic facility or two to put in a parking lot. But the point is, there are trade-offs.
    A better use of resources would be for UCLA to fund a bus service from communities popular with students to campus, or to build more student housing. Again, there are trade-offs.
    A little economics can go a long way.

  • Kiki Insultcat

    And free ice cream on Fridays and no more grades below “B” and vote for Summer for class prez!