Parking, parking, parking … What are we going to do with you? You make us laugh, you make us cry, you make us late for class.
With the semester in full swing, parking on and around campus once again becomes the bane of students’ existence — especially since there are fewer parking spots this year and the permit fees increased by more than 15 percent. So what are we going to do about parking?
Currently, there isn’t a winning solution to the parking problem.
As we see the university expand, we see our parking lots decrease or become nonexistent. By 2022, the university is predicted to only have 600 parking spots on campus. We have over 20,000 students enrolled at the university, not to mention faculty and staff — 600 is just not going to cut it.
UNR is not the only college campus to deal with parking issues, but some offer better solutions. One system is to park off-campus and have a shuttle or bus system to bring students to and from campus from these satellite lots. The university already has their own transportation system, PackTransit, but it has come with many financial issues.
In February, the Office of Parking and Transportation announced PackTransit was more than half a million dollars in debt, causing transit routes to be shorter this semester in order to save money. Since the bus line is no longer self sustaining, it cannot be a solution to the parking problem without creating even more of a financial disaster.
However, the university is not ignoring the problem, as many students like to think. As annoying as the permit fee increase was this year, the money is being used to raise funds for a 750 to 1,000 spot parking garage at the south end of campus by 2020. While this will likely just make up for the parking spots lost due to current construction and expansion, the money will also help fund PackTransit, hopefully making it a solution in the future.
The parking garage doesn’t come without its cost, though. Many people don’t realize how expensive parking garages are. The university already spends $1.4 million a year in repairs to the current parking garages, and it would cost more than $8 million just to build another one. Yes, all that concrete and asphalt are actually worth quite a lot while contributing absolutely nothing academically to our campus. It’s easy to see why this wasn’t prioritized in the past.
In fact, it’s taking away some education and history from our campus. The university has to sell and move 12 historic homes in order to make way for this new parking garage. One of the amazing things about campus is how much history is rooted in our grounds, and moving these houses takes away from that, but we need our parking.
Hindsight is 20/20, and the university should have planned and expanded parking as they continued to grow, but that isn’t the case here. Parking will forever and always be an issue on campus, and right now, there isn’t a complete solution to the problem. We can keep complaining; or, as innovative, intelligent college students, we can help the university seek a solution that is both practical and realistic so we can stop crying over our steering wheels as we run 15 minutes late for class. The choice is up to us, Nevada. Let’s be part of the solution.
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