Parking pass prices for Virginia Tech drivers will continue to rise as the university funds its first parking garage.
Richard McCoy, Parking Services manager, said the price hike is still in planning stages and will likely be presented at a Board of Visitors meeting for final approval and implementation in coming months.
“We’ll increase permit prices enough to cover expenses,” McCoy said. “We don’t receive any state funding for parking so (the increase) is what it takes to keep parking going.”
If and when permit prices are raised in the 2010 fall semester, it will mark the third consecutive year the university community has seen such an increase. The increase will be uniform, affecting students and faculty members equally.
Even with imminently inflating pass prices, McCoy said Tech would still boast permit prices among the lowest in the state of Virginia.
A commuter pass at Tech costs $136 annually, while commuter passes cost $192 annually at the University of Virginia, $192 annually at James Madison University and $305 annually at William and Mary.
The reason for this disparity is simple, claims McCoy.
“We haven’t had parking decks until now,” McCoy said. “Most of our peer institutions on the East Coast already have decks constructed on campus.”
Without garages, Parking Services does not need to rely as heavily on permit prices and parking citations to balance its budget.
“(Permit prices) won’t get up to our counterparts all at one time,” McCoy said. “It will not be a huge increase this year — nowhere around the 100 or 200 mark. It will be much like what we’ve experienced the last two years.
McCoy said there is no fear of losing demand as prices increased because decks would be built to accommodate additional demand, not catalyze it.
In addition to the influx in desire for parking spaces on campus, Hilary West, communications coordinator with Transportation and Campus Services, said more students have also because interested in alternative transportation methods.
“There has been an increase in participation in the alternative transportation program (Bus, Bike, and Walk, and Carpool),” West said. “I think that is part the cost and part people looking for sustainable methods of transportation. Not only are they not spending that money on a permit, but they’re saving money on fuel and that other stuff.”
And while Tech’s $26 million parking structure, scheduled to be completed sometime between late August and early September, may cause a mere “moderate” increase in permit prices, the distant future outlook is much more ominous.
The Tech master plan of development includes the construction of two more parking decks to accommodate the university’s desire for continued growth. The first deck, which is in the five to 10 year plan, would be located where the cage lot is now, a hotspot for resident parking, McCoy said. The area not occupied by the structure would be filled with buildings for academia and other university endeavors.
Beyond this, the university plans for a third parking structure near either the present Cassell Coliseum lot or Squires Student Center Lot. Further still, Tech has loosely considered taking parking off the Drillfield entirely, in favor of a more pedestrian-friendly atmosphere. This project, however, is much more long range, as Drillfield parking changes are nowhere in the foreseeable future plan and have only minimally been discussed.
Despite the limited number of parking spaces with the present garage construction and plans to continue to raise the pass price, students have largely remained silent and nonconfrontational.
Ed Spencer, vice president for student affairs, noting that his job is to make sure students have a voice and their points of view are heard, said he was surprised with the lack of strife.
“I’ve not heard as many complaints as I would have expected, given the number of spaces out of circulation,” Spencer said. “It’s not been as high in my impression as one might expect.”
Gary Long, Faculty Senate president, added that the group he oversees has yet to talk about any aspect of parking this year.