Finding a parking spot on campus? s’no way

| Staff Columnist

Hannna Xu | Student Life
Anyone who lives off campus and drives to class can attest to the fact that Washington University has a parking problem. Even though I live on campus, I confront the same issue whenever I drive somewhere between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and return to a completely full parking lot on Snow Way. It’s not fair for students who live on campus to have their residential lots jammed all day long; the overcrowding and unpredictability of Wash. U.’s parking lots are huge issues to students who rely on parking to make it to class.

Every time I have to make a car trip during business hours, I know I am risking not getting a spot close to where I live once I get back. This is a real annoyance for me, especially when I make trips to the grocery store and then find there is no parking in the entire Snow Way garage. Unfortunately, this has been happening increasingly often, and after driving up four floors of the parking garage and finding no spaces, I roll my windows up and scream some choice words in frustration. But I feel even worse for those students who rely on parking availability in order to get to class on time. I cannot imagine how frustrating it must be to drive to class or an exam on a foul-weathered day only to find no parking.

What is causing this issue? I believe that it is failure on the part of the Parking & Transportation office. To be worth anything, a parking permit should guarantee the holder a reliable parking space, and, currently, this is not the case. However, there are several reasonable solutions to the problem. One would be to build additional parking—but that option would be very expensive and require a lot of new construction. A better solution would be to reduce the number of permits that are issued. This would allow the current number of spaces to effectively serve a smaller number of users. One option would be to ration the parking permits via some kind of lottery or seniority-based system. Parking & Transportation could then keep the prices where they are, but allow people to get the most value out of the money they pay.

Another solution would be to raise parking permit prices. While this may not be appealing to most, in economic terms, it is the most efficient solution. It is an example of letting supply and demand determine a market-clearing price. I, for one, would be willing to pay more than the current $459 for a permit that always guarantees me a convenient spot. Others might decide to forgo a parking pass, but at least they would not be paying $459 for a service that only works some of the time.

There is no question that it is an issue when students (myself and friends included) are forced to spend 20 minutes or more per day searching for parking. It wastes a lot of time and is very frustrating to already overstressed students. Luckily, there are several reasonable and easily implemented solutions to this problem. I hope that Parking & Transportation Services will heed this advice and make changes in order to make parking more pleasant for everyone.

  • a name is in this box

    you must also be one of those people who can’t walk to class in seven minutes too.

  • There is parking available

    This is the most inane article I have read in a long time.

    “I, for one, would be willing to pay more than the current $459 for a permit that always guarantees me a convenient spot.”
    Talk about a spoiled brat. I have never had an issue getting a spot to park. No, it may not be the most convenient, but I don’t make up bs studlife articles that there are “zero” parking spots available.

  • poor baby

    Poor baby can’t get close parking? Try parking mommy and daddy’s car in Millbrook garage.

    Your poor fragile self may have to walk more than 1 minute though.

  • Wow.

    This should definitely be on whitewhine.com. Lolol.