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PTS raises service permit prices by $1,650


A sign designating reserved parking for service vehicles on July 8. Parking and Transportation Services raised service permit prices from $350 to $2,000 this summer.

The arrival of a new academic year means the return of a bustling student body. It also means a crowded commute for those traveling to and from the UA.

Parking and Transportation Services raised the price of service permits, which can be placed in any vehicle to park in a service space, from $350 to $2,000.

PTS introduced the change during the summer with the goal to reduce traffic on campus by freeing up service parking access for department vehicles, and promoting alternative modes of transportation.

PTS offered departments three pricing options to choose where to park their work vehicles.

Off-campus parking costs $200 per vehicle, parking north of Speedway Boulevard or south of Sixth Street will cost departments $444 per car. Due to future construction of a parking garage next to the Campus Recreation Center, south of Sixth Street lots are less available.

For departments wanting to park on central campus, it will cost $2,000 per vehicle. Many departments rely on the proximity to their buildings to conduct their work, and those unable to pay will be affected.

UA and state-owned vehicles, previously free-to-use by departments, are primarily used to carry out work-related activities.

“We are still … working with departments to determine how exactly we’re going to work with them to determine what exactly they want to do with their vehicles,” PTS executive director David Heineking said.

Florence Dei Ochoa, marketing and public information manager, said there are around 1,100 UA or state-owned vehicles, but only 550 spots for service vehicles.

PTS sent an email notifying campus of the changes on June 15, two weeks before the new fiscal year was set to begin—a notice some departments felt was abrupt.

RELATED: Go too fast, get caught: PTS enforcing speed limits in UA garages

“I can’t speak for everybody, but everybody puts their budget together several months [before]; we don’t wait until July 1,” said Christopher Kopach, Facilities Management assistant vice president.

He said it is critical that their staff has the ability to get to buildings in a timely fashion when there’s an emergency or routine maintenance.

Kopach—who said Facilities Management has more than 300 service vehicles, many of which are parked at the Motor Pool compound—added that the reason PTS wants to reduce the total number of service vehicles on campus is because of vehicle misuse.

“There are service vehicles that are parked in service spots for extended periods of time that are not being used, that’s not efficient use of space,” Kopach said.

Erma Santander, an administrative associate in hydrology and atmospheric sciences, who works at the John W. Harshbarger building that has eight service permit spots out front, said she hasn’t seen people abuse service parking.

“There’s always space in front, there’s always available parking in the front of our building,” Santander said.

Santander said she understands why PTS wants to reduce traffic on campus, but would be surprised if they get the money for the vehicles.

“I don’t know how many departments can afford their vehicles plus those outrageous prices [for] the permits,” Santander said.

Soil, Water and Environmental Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is another department affected by the vehicle permit fee increases.

“If I want to just park my truck in front of my building for an hour to load it or to unload it, that will require a $200 permit,” said SWES professor James Walworth.

He said much of the work SWES does takes place off campus, including research, cooperative extension and teaching.

Walworth estimated there are eight cooperative extension faculty members who each use state vehicles to conduct field research and often transport samples and equipment to and from campus.

Although Walworth said he understood why PTS wants to curb vehicle misuse, he said he couldn’t function without buying the vehicle permits. Walworth also suggested that the money to pay for them could come from research projects.

“I think that they’ve looked at it from a monetary standpoint and not really considered some of the university functions that are vital for operation,” Walworth said. “It’s going to make operating a little bit more difficult or a little bit more expensive.”

Communications Vice President Chris Sigurdson said he doesn’t think any department should be privileging a parking space next to their building over an academic program.

“I hate to say this about other people’s motivations, but for them to say that it’s affecting research projects and academic projects, that’s just a way to make their stance seem even more aggrieved,” Sigurdson said. “I’m sorry, I don’t feel bad for those folks.”

He said the decision was not motivated by revenue because PTS doesn’t have a goal like businesses to project how many permits it will sell.

“This program is designed to reduce automobile traffic on campus, to open up service spaces for the people who actually do service on the buildings and, if you really need to park there, then you have to make changes in your budget to do that,” Sigurdson said.

Heineking did not have a revenue projection regarding vehicle permits, but did talk about his goals regarding service permits.

“We’re hoping that we’ll end up about revenue neutral, so we’ll sell fewer but we’ll sell them for more,” Heineking said.

Data provided by PTS shows it sold 565 service permits to departments at $350 each for the 2015-2016 permit year, totaling $197,750 in revenue. To end up revenue-neutral or make the same amount of money as last year, PTS needs to sell fewer than 100 service permits.

“I guess I’d say it’s not our intention to disrupt or affect the ability of departments to do their jobs,” Heineking said. “Our intention is to lower the amount of traffic in the center of campus, free up valuable parking spaces that are near the center of campus that often have state vehicles just parked there for extended periods.”

Kopach said Facilities Management is looking into the possibility of renting service vehicles out to departments who don’t use them often enough.

“We can drop vehicles off for someone that can use it for a day use to try to help with the challenges of getting around campus or maybe getting off campus,” Kopach said.

Heineking said he didn’t know anything about how this will affect ASUA SafeRide, the free transportation service for the UA Community.

SafeRide directors did not respond or comment on the permit increases and how it will affect them. 

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