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A truck for the University of Oregon Transportation Services department. (Adam Eberhardt/Emerald Archives)

As a new school year begins, concerns over parking availability and permit pricing have returned.

The current rate for a day parking pass, based on the University of Oregon Transportation Services website, is $34 a month, $306 for three terms. The rate is new, having increased around a dollar since last year, according to University of Oregon Transportation Services specialist Matthew Gross. Records received by the department show that, since 2014, the price has increased 36%. A night parking pass costs $94 a month, $846 for three terms.

“I wanted an overnight parking pass just for October, to go to concerts in Portland,” said Ian Enger, a first year student at UO. When he went to apply for a parking permit, Egner said UO Transportation Services told him that they reached capacity for passes. He said he now parks his car at a friend’s house, a 30-minute walk from campus. “If you’re going to charge so much, there should be more,” Egner said.  

Gross deems construction as the main disrupter on campus. Spots near the renovated Hayward Field become occupied by contractors; equipment rests in on-campus lots. Staff are relocated to reserved areas near the EMU and students are pushed farther away from main campus parking.

“I wanted a car on campus to be able to drive back home, every once in a while, and be able to go wherever I wanted without having to pay for an Uber, or inconvenience someone else,” said first-year Siamak Dumasia.“I think if I’m paying that much I should be able to park anywhere that there is student parking, not just designated overnight parking.”

Matthew Gross, an office specialist at Transportation Services, called this price increase “the trend,” where rates increase, on average, 5% a year. Gross, an employee since 2015, can’t promise prices will go down. However, he said that the solutions in production “will become more worthwhile”.

A portion of revenue collected by Transportation Services goes toward the UO Police Department, and other services on campus. In addition, some revenue has gone back into trying to address the parking issue. In June, Around the O announced the construction of the five-level Millrace Drive Garage, scheduled to open in June 2020 alongside the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerated Learning. The funding collected by Transportation Services added an extra level to the garage. The structure would provide an additional 600 parking spots for students and faculty. “It’s going to change the game,” said Gross. “Things are going to get better.”

Transportation Services is hesitant to fix the problem with conventional solutions. “Parking structures are nice,” he said, “but expensive.” Additionally, the model of transportation is changing, with concerns of sustainability and carbon emissions. What will transportation look like in 50 years? “You never know what’s going to happen,” Gross said.

There are options for students seeking alternatives to the school-distributed parking pass. Park and Ride is a service where students can park their car in a designated free lot and ride the bus to campus. No permit is required, and the bus pass is free with a UO ID. With a location near Autzen Stadium, it could be the low-cost option many students are looking for.

“People are frustrated, but people are also understanding,” Gross said. “I feel we have better days to come.”