To the Editor:
I found many of the comments on "Nobel? Sure. Parking Space? No." humorous and maybe a bit alarming (The Chronicle, October 2). I'm not sure why there is an expectation of free parking on campuses. Parking is expensive. As noted in the article, garage parking is very expensive, with an individual stall costing $16,000 to build. Balancing the cost of the parking space with parking demand is difficult and usually results in a limited number of angry customers. But the reality is that people continue to enroll in (and park at) campuses with parking "problems."
The problems, like most transportation issues, usually occur only at peak periods. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, for instance, usually has limited parking between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Most students and staff and faculty members are aware of this problem and adjust accordingly. The rest of the day, parking is easy to find, albeit not close to a building. But why should there be an expectation that a parking space be next to a building? I think some people are just lazy.
The outrage expressed in the article by the English professor is laughable and even arrogant. Just because she has contributed to society and her profession by writing some books does not mean she should not pay her parking tickets. She knew the parking rules and regulations when she took the job. I do not understand the outrage at getting a ticket after the meter expired, even if she was only late 10 minutes. The point is, she was late! She knew when she put money into the meter that she needed to return to the meter in order to avoid the ticket. I wonder if she runs her classroom as lackadaisically as she expects parking to run on campus. No points taken off for a late assignment? I hardly think so.
This article shows what is wrong on many campuses across the nation and with American society in general. People expect cheap parking, even if the parking is not really cheap. Parking structures cost money to build. Yes, there may be 5,000 spaces for 30,000 students at a university, but the cost for providing 30,000 spaces would making parking too expensive, at which point there would be more complaints. The real solution is mentioned in a sidebar to the article but should be featured: transportation-demand management. Focusing more on demand and less on supply will aid both the commuter and the campus because the commuter will pay less for transportation to the campus, and the campus can reduce the amount of spaces it has to build.
As a former parking-enforcement officer (also known as a "meter maid"), I found the outrage at a parking ticket laughable. I did not park your car there—you did. I did not try to forge a parking pass so you didn't have to pay—you did that. If the outrage is over not enough parking, then what about carpooling? How about mass transit?
One item that was not mentioned in the article is that at IUPUI (and many other places), parking is required to be self-sustaining, receiving no money from the university itself. Parking must pay for itself through permits, visitor parking, and special events. Adding more garages makes the operation harder to run and raises the permit prices.
Parking is a negative land use. The more garages a university builds (the more parking generally, for that matter), the less land there is for academic buildings, open space, or other, better uses. Parking may be tough on many campuses, but there does not seem to be an enrollment dip at the universities with parking issues.
Ball State University
The writer is pursuing a graduate degree in urban planning.