The Current | January 29, 2001

Parking fee going up

Cost of new garages has increased fee 400 percent since 1997

by Josh Renaud

UMSL's parking fees may be increasing again, this time to $18 per credit hour for the fall, administrators said last week.

Jim Krueger, vice chancellor for Managerial and Technological Services, said he expected the fee to rise $2 from the current rate of $16, based on the most recent projections. Chancellor Blanche Touhill confirmed that number in an interview Jan. 24. Krueger said the fee would probably continue to be increased at $1-2 increments over the next several years.

If the parking fee is increased this fall, it will be the latest in a series of increases dating back to 1997. For the winter 1997 semester, the parking fee was $3.88 per credit hour. Over the last 4 years, it has increased more than 400 percent to its present level.

The fee is being increased to pay for four new parking garages. One of those garages is open now, and another is expected to open in February. The remaining two garages are still in the planning stages.

Student reaction to the fee increase has been mixed. Some expressed frustration at the rising cost of parking on campus, while others said they would be willing to pay it if it improves the quality of parking.

"Parking conditions here haven't always been satisfactory," said Jeremy Nantz, a senior majoring in philosophy and French. "This is the first year it's been easier to park."

"This is only my second semester here, and [the fee] is really high," said Sean Ragan, a sophomore majoring in business. "I went to a community college in Kansas City, and parking was free. If we were downtown and space was at a premium, I could understand the high cost. But we're not."

Administrators defended the fee increases, explaining that the new garages were part of the larger Campus Master Plan.

"I understand the issue of cost, and the parking fees have gone up; they've gone up a lot," said Bob Samples, director of University Communications. "But you're seeing what you're buying. [The new garages are] well-lit, safe, and aesthetically attractive."

UMSL's fee increases have made it one of the most expensive campuses to park on in the area. The parking fees at Washington University, St. Louis University, Southern Illinois University—Edwardsville, and the University of Missouri—Kansas City are all significantly lower than UMSL's.

Samples said that other universities may not charge as much for parking, but they had streams of revenue from other fees that helped offset that.

"When you add the whole bill together, UMSL is still a very reasonable cost compared to the other institutions," he said.