Additional parking meters on campus strain students

Additional parking meters on campus strain students (credit: Josh Smith/Forum Editor) Additional parking meters on campus strain students (credit: Josh Smith/Forum Editor)

Students will no longer have to battle over the coveted free-parking spots on Margaret Morrison Street; at the start of the semester, meters were erected on the street, ready to eat up students’ quarters. At any other university, this might not be a big deal. But here, where parking is not only scarce but also expensive, taking away a conveniently located street of free parking is another strain on students.

With this street gone, students who live on campus and want to have a car are left with limited options. There’s parking on campus, which is convenient but also incredibly expensive. The East Campus Garage, for example, will cost $114.50 per month — or $1,145 for the 10 months classes are in session. And the garage isn’t even the most expensive parking lot on campus.

“We continue to make every effort to keep parking rates reasonable, especially during these economic times,” Michelle Porter, the director of Parking & Transportation Services, said in an announcement last year. And yet, the rates for the 2012–13 academic year increased about 3 percent, and they will in all likelihood continue to increase year after year.

Space is also a major issue, since parking areas are limited on campus. “Demand for parking is expected to be very high, and we anticipate that our lots will be at capacity during the 2012–2013 parking year; therefore, we suggest that you select multiple preferences,” Porter further said in the announcement. This year, for Doherty Apartment’s parking, there was so much demand that there was a waitlist for spots.

Moreover, students can only apply for a permit spot during a certain period, between April 23 and May 4. As a result, they have to know far in advance if they will be bringing a car to campus, further complicating the process for students.

Compare this to an annual City of Pittsburgh parking permit, which costs about $20. With a city permit, residents are allowed to park on multiple streets in the area surrounding their address rather than having to choose a parking spot on availability.

However, students living on campus can’t apply for a City of Pittsburgh permit since they have a campus address.

This leaves them to decide between forgoing a car and depending on the PAT bus system or dealing with the stress and costs of having a car on campus.

The addition of meters to Margaret Morrison Street may seem like a minor inconvenience to some, but to many students who already face expensive and limited parking options, it is a severe blow.