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Photo Credit: Alex Dolan | Daily Texan Staff

UT will begin charging more for parking permits across the board starting Sept. 1, in line with a report from the UT Parking Strategies Committee.

The increases will apply each year for at least the next five years.

Under the new plan, commuter student and surface staff permits will increase in cost by an average of $6 per year. Most resident garage permits and commuter garage permits will increase an average of $23 each year. Faculty permits will see an average increase between $10 and $33 each year, and administrative permits increasing an average of $64 per year.

The committee opted to adjust each permit separately, fearing that an equal increase to all the permits would make some options unaffordable.

“Across-the-board increases place a larger burden on low-cost permits and, as such, potentially on those in the university community least able to afford such increases,” the report said.

Gerald Harkins, associate vice president for Campus Safety and Security, said the report focused on ways the parking permit fee system could be priced closer to market rates of universities similar in size to UT.

The permit rates at UT are considerably low compared to other universities of similar size around the state. For a student surface lot permit, UT-San Antonio, Texas Tech and Texas A&M charge $145 and higher, whereas the current surface lot permit at UT-Austin is $120.

According to the report, the staff at UT-San Antonio, Texas Tech and Texas A&M can purchase permits starting at $335, $236 and $356, respectively. The lowest staff permit at UT-Austin starts at $142.

The goal of increasing parking permit fees is to better cover the cost of the Parking and Transportation Service. Since PTS is an auxiliary department of the University, only money from permit fees, garage fees and citations fund the cost.

Tom Brown, government junior and member of the Parking Strategies Committee, said the increased funding for PTS is necessary for the services they provide the University.

“Parking and Transportation does more for our campus than meets the eye,” Brown said. “PTS provides funds for campus safety and security, which houses the Emergency Preparedness Department, Environmental Health & Safety, Fire Prevention Services and UTPD.”

Undergraduate Studies sophomore Laney Whitney commutes to campus every day and parks her car in the Speedway garage. She said driving to campus is an expensive last resort.

“As a commuter, I think the increasing garage prices are ridiculous,” Whitney said. “I really don’t have a choice but to buy a pass since the buses don’t run where I live.”

Whitney said she understands the need to pay for the changing parking needs on a campus like UT-Austin but further stressing students’ budgets should be a last resort. According to the report, some of the increase in permit rates will go to cover construction of additional spaces.

“They should figure out an alternative to charging struggling college students who will probably graduate before they see the benefits of more parking,” Whitney said.

The report found the parking rates at UT-Austin have been historically low, with small increases in price from year-to-year, ranging from 0.74 percent to 1.54 percent.

Harkins said PTS wanted to charge only as much as would be needed to operate.

“Our philosophy has not been to make money in the parking business,” Harkins said. “Our philosophy has been to provide the service and to do it as inexpensively as possible. I know sometimes it doesn’t seem that way.”

PTS officials say a new University parking plan for more parking garages will result in fewer citations.

Photo Credit: Griffin Smith | Daily Texan Staff

Parking and Transportation Services officials say they anticipate a reduction in the number of parking citations they issue over the next few years because of a plan to address the University’s parking assets and reduce surface parking spots on campus.

Bob Harkins, associate vice president for campus safety and security, told The Daily Texan last week that, under the 2012 Campus Master Plan — which outlines development of the University campus for the next 30 years — the University intends to construct buildings on current surface parking lots, creating the need for the construction of more parking garages. PTS is also planning to propose increased parking costs to help fund the new parking garages, he said. 

Dennis Delaney, PTS events/operations manager, said PTS has already seen a decrease in parking citations, as more buildings and projects have taken up parking spaces over the past few years, and he anticipates seeing a further decrease with the implemented parking plan.

“As parking spaces are more concentrated, this would limit the number of locations that a violation can occur,” Delaney said.

Delaney could not provide an average number of daily citations, but he said the department issued 37,923 citations last year.

According to Delaney, failing to pay a meter and failing to display a valid permit are the two most commonly issued citations, with some areas around campus more prone to citations than others.

“The meters off University [and San Jacinto] Boulevard have a high concentration of citations,” Delaney said.

According to UTPD spokeswoman Cindy Posey, UTPD does not issue parking citations but can issue criminal citations for violations of University parking and traffic regulations. 

One type of citation UTPD can issue is called a “University citation,” and the other is a court appearance ticket, according to the PTS website. PTS collects the money from University citations, while fees from court appearance tickets are sent over to the Justice of the Peace in Precinct 5.

UTPD statistics show UTPD officers issued 420 warning, parking or moving citations last year. 

Harkins said parking citations account for 6 percent of PTS’ overall revenue. 

According to PTS director Bobby Stone, PTS is a self-funded auxiliary department of the University, which means that no faculty or staff salaries or tuition dollars go toward supporting the parking system.

Photo Credit: Graeme Hamilton | Daily Texan Staff

University parking rates are likely to increase over the next five years, according to the draft of a report by the Committee on Parking Strategies, which will present recommendations on how to increase parking revenue to the UT community next week.

Bob Harkins, chair of the committee and associate vice president for campus safety and security, said an increase in the cost of daily parking rates and faculty and student permits will be used to support the expenses of Parking and Transportation Services, or PTS, and the construction of new parking garages. 

“We haven’t raised parking rates a lot — less than 2 percent per year over the last 10 years,” Harkins said. He said PTS wanted to keep parking fees down since faculty salaries were not rising and the cost of attendance for students is increasing.

The Committee on Parking Strategies — made up of faculty, staff and students — was created in 2013 after the University’s Committee on Business Productivity published a report titled “Smarter Systems for a Greater UT,” stating that PTS could earn $96 million in revenue over the next 10 years by increasing parking prices.

“Currently, there is an annual gap of $9.2 million between market rates and what UT charges for parking,” the report said. “A rate increase of 7.5 percent per year for 15 years would put UT equal to the market.”

According to Harkins, after the Committee on Parking Strategies did its own research, it determined PTS could more realistically earn about $38 million in 10 years in revenue. The draft of the committee’s report shows the cost of Class C and Brazos Garage resident parking permits are expected to increase $6 and $23.60 per year, respectively. Resident permit costs in Manor Garage are not anticipated to rise.

Harkins said, even if the Committee on Business Productivity had not published its findings about University parking, PTS still needed to look into increasing parking rates.

In 2013, the UT System Board of Regents approved the 2012 Campus Master Plan, which outlines development of the University campus for the next 30 years. Harkins said, according to this plan, the University intends to build buildings on current surface parking lots, creating the need for the construction of more parking garages.

PTS director Bobby Stone said the number of parking spaces in surface lots is presently equal to the number of spaces in parking garages. Once new buildings begin replacing surface lots, Stone said he expects 75 percent of parking spots to be garage spaces.

“The impact that will have on the community at large is it costs me a lot more money to build a parking garage space than it does a surface space,” Stone said. “And it costs me a lot more money for me to maintain that space.”

Stone said, since PTS is an auxiliary department — meaning no faculty or staff salaries or tuition dollars go toward supporting the parking system — it needed to find a way to pay for new parking garages to be able to provide about the same number of spaces the University has now.

The Committee on Parking Strategies will present its recommendations to Student Government, and the Graduate Student Assembly and at a campus-wide town hall meeting Tuesday, along with the Staff Council on Thursday. 

SG President Kori Rady said it makes sense that PTS plans to increase parking rates. 

“Obviously, we don’t want the money to come from students, but there’s nothing we can really do about it, unfortunately,” Rady said. “The money has to come from somewhere.”