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UCLA community suggests potential changes to parking payment options

A UCLA parking garage is pictured. Community members have called for a different approach to UCLA’s parking system by looking at different universities’ policies. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Leyton Breese

Jan. 16, 2024 1:23 a.m.

Community members have called for an expansion of UCLA’s daily parking program, citing environmental and congestion reasons.

UCLA currently offers students a long-term quarterly parking option, where students pay $302.28 for an allocated spot, and an option to buy daily parking permits. The university also offers short-term visitor parking, where people can pay between $15 and $27 per day to park.

Donald Shoup, a professor of urban planning, said removing quarterly payment options could help reduce congestion and pollution. Shoup added that UC Davis currently has a parking system that forces students to pay for parking only on days when they choose to park on campus.

“It encourages you every day not to drive,” Shoup said. “But it can only be cheaper than the regular system.”

He said the benefits of using a system of daily parking payments include reduced vehicle trips and increased transit usage, which he explained in his publication, titled “Parking and the City.”

In the book, Shoup also examined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s transition from an annual to a daily parking permit system, which he said reduced car usage and traffic in Boston.

In an emailed statement, James Nash, a UC Davis spokesperson, said the university’s daily parking option allows students to pay only for the parking they need, regularly reminding students of the cost of commuting.

“Long-term permits contribute to a ‘set it and forget it’ mentality that serves peoples’ demand for convenience, whereas a daily parking system requires the driver to actively consider how much they are paying to drive,” Nash said in the statement.

Nash said in the statement that he thinks although UC Davis’s parking payment model leads to less payment convenience, the short-term scheme allows for flexibility, agency and financial savings by encouraging more economical parking use.

Sheryl Anand, a second-year mechanical engineering student, said she would prefer paying daily parking charges to a quarterly pass.

“I would like that more when I go home on the weekend,” Anand said. “It would be cheaper.”

In an emailed statement, a UCLA Transportation spokesperson said that UCLA’s current parking model is based on considerations of both access and mobility.

“The Bruin ePermit system is intended for commuters requiring parking for all-day campus access,” the spokesperson said in the statement.

The spokesperson said in the statement that pay station areas and the ParkMobile app are already available payment methods for drivers across the UCLA campus to pay for short-term parking. These services offer various options from one-hour to all-day parking.

Daniel Ludlow, a second-year aerospace engineering student, said he does not think UCLA forcing people to pay for shorter-term pricing would cause students to reduce their driving and parking usage.

“I’m a very car-dependent person, so probably not,” Ludlow said.

UC Davis fully discontinued its offer of quarterly permits in January 2021, transitioning to a daily-only parking charge. Nash said in an emailed statement this new daily parking system at UC Davis has already had an effect.

“Prior to the pandemic … our core campus parking facilities had more vehicles trying to park than there were parking stalls,” Nash said in the statement. “Parking demand has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels, so greenhouse gas emissions from commuting is down and driver experience is much improved.”

Nash said in the statement that the drawback to long-term permits is that students will feel they might as well drive to campus since they have already paid for parking.

“If someone has already paid for a month or more of parking, they are less likely to even consider a non-driving commute,” Nash said in the statement. “Appropriately priced and with sufficient financial planning, daily parking saves commuters money and encourages more sustainable commuting.”

Nash said in the statement that even though the daily parking policy appears to have been successful at other universities, every UC campus is different and has different financial obligations, with UCLA having 10 times as many parking structures as UC Davis.

However, Nash said in the statement that the policy is worth reviewing.

“Transitioning to daily parking should not be an easy decision, but it should definitely be a decision worth considering,” he said in the statement.

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