The UCSB Parking Ratepayers Board recently implemented a $1.50 increase in long-term parking rates on campus and a $1.00 hike to night and weekend fees as a result of financial constraints on Transportation and Parking Services.
The board voted to raise prices during a meeting in May of 2011, but its implementation was delayed for a year to allow an extended period of consultation with various campus groups. The increases aim to help TPS meet budgetary requirements and make payments on past parking structure construction.
According to TPS Interim Director Robert Silsbee, TPS has historically tried to keep rates as low as possible.
“The reason for the changes is to increase the income a little bit higher than we had, and it is going to bring in a certain amount of money that will help our operation,” Silsbee said. “Rates haven’t gone up since 2005; they haven’t increased in seven years. … Our rates are among the lowest if not the lowest in the UC system. We have been good at keeping our rates low for as long as we can, but at some point inflation catches up.”
According to last year’s RHA President Raul Martinez, who serves as a student representative in the Parking Ratepayers Board, the changes were made primarily to cover the costs of the new parking structures.
“The reason has to do with the people who finance the park- ing structures,” Martinez said. “Every parking structure on campus gets paid over ten, twenty or thirty years. They wanted to have at least 1.1 percent of however much money each park- ing structure cost in reserves. Because we weren’t getting enough money to have that security blanket, the parking permit costs had to go up.”
Silsbee said TPS has no set future plan to implement more fee increases, but said the fees must be increased on a regular basis in order to account for inflation.
“I think typically we are going to increase rates about a dollar a year to keep up with inflation, to keep up with salaries, benefits or healthcare,” Silsbee said. “Just to keep up with inflation it would be about a dollar a year. There is nothing really planned right now, and we will look at that again in about January.” In addition to raising fees, TPS is also changing the categories of parking pass
from ‘student,’ ‘staff’ and ‘faculty’ to simply ‘A,’ ‘B’ and ‘C’ passes, with no changes made to the passes’ restrictions. TPS originally proposed a tiered system of fees in which each pass cost a different amount depending on the area it covered. However, the plan was later abandoned after consulting with campus groups; each pass will still be priced identically.
Martinez said the increase should allow TPS to forgo raising fees for the next couple years.
“It is really unfortunate that we had to increase them but that’s just the way economics works [with] inflation,” Martinez said. “I think we increased parking fees enough that there won’t be a raise in fees for two years. We thought increasing parking permits every two years is a better option then postponing it and digging into a hole or increasing it every year and students being like ‘Whoa, again?’”