University Again Holds the Line on Most Parking Fees, But Expenses Loom

April 26, 2010 — Once again, the University of Virginia will hold the line on parking fees for most permit-holders. But the University's top parking official warns that prices cannot remain the same indefinitely.

For the fourth straight year, the Department of Parking and Transportation will hold prices steady at $16 per month for those holding red and blue commuter permits. And for the third straight year, all reserved and premium permit-holders in the Academic Division will see their monthly rates remain the same at $39 and $49, respectively. The monthly rate to park in the Darden School garage will also remain at $61 per month.

Only reserved spaces in the Medical Center will be more expensive, rising from $75 to $80 per month beginning June 1. That increase affects roughly a third of the University's parkers, said Rebecca White, director of Parking and Transportation, and reflects the Health System's increased costs.

"We are certainly mindful of the economy, and the fact that state employees have not received a general pay increase since December 2007," White said. "Our employees have not, either."

A subsidy system has helped insulate employees from rising parking costs. Both academic-side and Health System employees have their parking fees partially subsidized by their employers, White noted; if those subsidies were suddenly ended, permit fees would jump by $25 per month, she estimated.

Fees cannot be kept stable forever, White warned. Parking structures begin to require more maintenance about 10 years after they are built, including recaulking, re-waterproofing and joint repair, she noted; three University garages are either 16 or 17 years old, another is 10 years old, and the University's second-largest parking facility, the Emmet/Ivy Garage, opened seven years ago.

White urged employees who are concerned about parking rates to continue to explore alternative forms of transportation.

Surveys find that about one-third of U.Va. employees live within a quarter-mile of a Charlottesville Transit System bus stop, she noted. U.Va. employees can ride any CTS bus for free with their University ID cards.

The University also provides several incentives for car-pooling, including discounted and flexible permits, "occasional parker" permits, a "guaranteed ride home" service and ZipCar driving credits. Surveys show that 90 percent of U.Va. employees live within a half-mile of another employee, and 83 percent of employees live within a half-mile of at least four other employees. In fact, of those 83 percent, the average U.Va. employee has 150 colleagues living within a half-mile.

"Of course, that does not guarantee that your schedules and destinations will match," White said, "but it does create some opportunities."

— by Dan Heuchert