January 29, 1998......Volume 27, Issue 18

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Q: Parking on the University Park campus after 5 p.m. is terrible for commuter students. One evening, I arrived on campus at 7 p.m. and tried for 45 minutes to find a spot near Oswald Tower, where I work. I searched the entire block of campus stretching from Shortlidge-Curtin/Pollock to Burrowes-Curtin/Pollock. This area contains quite a few faculty/staff lots in which I am entitled to park after 5 p.m. Why are parking facilities for students so inadequate? You should build graduate students -- who are basically part-time employees of the University-- a parking deck.

-- Doctoral candidate in sociology

A: I am aware of the congestion in central campus during the evening hours. Some lots, such as the one you mentioned near Oswald Tower, do fill. That lot has a capacity of only 24 vehicles. The adjacent lot behind Osmond Building holds 121 vehicles. Student registered vehicles alone account for 8,000 parking spaces. There are an additional 8,955 registered employees trying to access campus during all hours of the day and night. These counts support the fact that the very center of campus will fill in the evening. However, there is always space in either the Nittany Deck or the Eisenhower Deck for evening use. While these locations may not be right next to your classroom, they are available for parking.

The parking facilities for students are in no way inadequate. The commuter lot alone has a capacity of 1,974 vehicles. A minimum of 500 empty spaces exists in that lot at any given time. Even though 2,877 commuter permits were sold for that lot, the high turnover of student vehicles during the day prevents it from filling. In addition, Lot 83 North for student residents maintains approximately 200-300 empty spaces per day. If student lots were located in the center of campus a state of chaos would exist. Student pedestrian safety would be at risk.

A student permit costs $58 per semester this year. This amounts to approximately $12 per month. In addition to the parking privileges, a commuting student also receives a Campus Loop bus pass, good on both the Campus and Town Loop buses, at no additional cost. If a student purchases the same pass from CATA, they would pay $70 per semester but they would not receive a parking pass for campus. As you can see, we provide a subsidized bus service to the students.

Building a parking garage, for student use or anyone's use, would cost $12,000 per space. An average deck contains approximately 700-900 spaces. Even if the direction of future parking at the University provided for this type of facility, the Parking Office would be forced to charge the current market rates of $60 to $70 per month to recover the cost of construction. This means that the people using the facilities must pay for those facilities.

Although a student may not get a desired space, parking is available. Lot 44 is available during the evening and night hours. I recommend that you proceed to those locations where ample parking exists.

-- Teresa A. Davis, Director of Transportation Services

If you have a question for the Glad you asked column, please send it, along with your name and office phone number, via e-mail to ask@psu.edu. For publication purposes, Intercom and Online Intercom will use the initials of the individuals sending the questions and their campus location or department, depending on the nature of the question. Submissions must include a contact name and telephone number so that Intercom can verify the source. Requests for anonymity will be honored.

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