Lofts parking problems indicative of campus-wide problem

Residential Life has spent the past few months pushing rising upperclassmen to live in the newly constructed Lofts of Washington University. With Round 2 housing decisions released last week, a number of students have been assigned to the newest University apartments—whether their first choice or not—for housing next year.

The Lofts provide residents with the most modern amenities, yet Parking & Transportation Services doesn’t appear to be holding up its end of the bargain.

Students living in the Lofts will have to purchase a permit specifically to park in garage below their apartments, essentially charging those who want to have a car at school extra money on top of the already exorbitant price tag of the Lofts themselves. Comparatively, students living in other off-campus apartments such as Greenway enjoy free parking at their place of residence.

Exacerbating the problem for Lofts residents is Parking & Transportation’s one-pass-per-person rule. Currently, students can only hold a single parking permit at a time, from which we can deduce that Lofts residents will be unable to park on campus because they will have to purchase a Lofts parking pass. Again, students living in places such as Greenway can buy an on-campus yellow permit, setting an unequal standard for University-owned off-campus parking options.

The Lofts are located at least a 15-minute walk from main campus, so it would make sense to allow their residents to drive to class. Alternatives include the Green Line public bus and planned shuttle between campus and the Lofts, but it remains to be seen how the current infrastructure will hold up with the influx of 500 students all needing to get to campus at the same time. Anyone who’s tried to find room on the Campus Circulator from the South 40 in the morning knows how hard it is for busing to work efficiently at peak class hours.

The Lofts parking issue is indicative of a larger, growing problem with parking at the University.

Students can only buy certain permits based on where they live—residents of the South 40 and North Side, for instance, can only hold brown or blue passes, respectively, which don’t allow parking elsewhere on campus before 5:30 p.m. These students are spending more than $500 on a parking pass but are not being allowed to actually park on the central hub of campus, and people living in those areas don’t even have the option of buying a yellow or red on-campus permit. Parking permits are already excessively expensive—why not afford students more flexibility in their parking options?

Parking spaces are quickly disappearing, too, due to construction projects such as the new Brown School of Social Work building or the planned engineering complex beyond Brookings’ steps. We’re all for an increased emphasis on sustainability on campus through measures such as increased biking and Car-Free Month, but limiting students’ flexibility and creating unequal distinctions based on where students live isn’t the right way to go about creating a greener campus. The University needs to accept that students want and sometimes need parking on campus. Increasing the price of parking and making it more difficult for students and faculty to find it does not reduce the demand—it just makes our lives more difficult.

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