Oversold parking passes tough on commuters

By MIKAL OVERTURF/Montana state news

Parking passes are being oversold at Montana State University, outraging students who have to commute every day. Even though there are approximately 6,000 total parking spaces on campus, only 5,600 SB-only (commuter) parking passes were sold to students during the Fall 2015 semester, according to Kurt Blunck, parking services manager.

This does not include the number of permits sold to other spaces included on campus. Although not all students come to campus every day, and the differing schedules of students allow for a lot of transitions throughout the day, the fact remains that many students at MSU feel the parking situation is unfair.

One student said that she had never seen it so bad and was quick to bring up the added struggle of parking in the winter: “It just gets worse because of all the snow, so people just ignore lines and take up more space than they should.”

The MSU Parking services business plan outlines the way in which, according to law, campus parking must be a singular business, creating its own revenue through fees and fines. It also states that a way in which it regulates demand for parking is to increase price, which exploits students’ ability to pay and creates a demand for the other forms of transportation.

Prices for SB passes have increased each year. This is generally attributed to inflation (the plan cites this as a reason for the price increase of around 5 percent yearly); however, many students feel that this is too much. One student said that she felt it was “ridiculous” and “unnecessary” to charge that much, claiming they could charge any price “they felt like since people would have to pay.”

In what has seemingly been a good first step, MSU began construction on a new parking garage structure in October 2015. It is part of a new plan for South Campus development, and the new building and parking garage will demolish approximately 390 spaces, according to Blunck. The garage will add about 545 SB spaces, bringing the net gain to only around 150 new spaces.

Construction is expected to be completed sometime in January 2017. While this may seem like a step in the right direction, it is important to note that MSU’s enrollment has increased nine times in the past 10 years, setting a new record each year. These enrollment increases usually add around 200 more students each time.

The MSU website lists the various prices of permits: An SB ($177 full year, $115 semester) parking permit is intended for students who commute to campus and allows them to park in one of 12 lots of varying sizes. However, students must also often park in the parking lot beside the football stadium or other “F” lots due to parking lots becoming filled.

– Edited by Nathanael Johns

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