Emory Report

 December 8, 1997

 Volume 50, No. 15

Parking services moves
toward more equitable rates

Parking application forms for 1997-98 are about to be mailed out, and in an effort to equalize parking rates between faculty and staff who park in decks and those who don't, Emory's Parking Office has made significant changes in the parking permit cost structure.

The changes, which will reflect as much as a 50 percent increase for those who don't park in decks, are the first in a three-year schedule that eventually will equalize the cost to deck and non-deck users. There was an adjustment two years ago moving the rates closer together, but this three-year plan aims to finish the job. For example, fees for Zone 2 University staff who park in a deck will increase from $174 to $183 for the year, while non-deck parking will jump from $66 to $99.

"This can be a very emotional issue," said Erick Gaither, executive director of Community Services. "But people also feel penalized by having to pay higher fees to park in decks. Some locations have no choice, for example the occupants of the North Decatur Building."

Gaither said the decision to equalize the rates came at the recommendation of the University Senate's traffic and parking committee. He said his office equalized deck and non-deck fees for students several years ago.

"We have been moving progressively in this direction," said Nancy Wilkinson, chair of the parking committee. "You get assigned to a deck, and you're having to pay more for a more inconvenient location. It seems a bit unfair. We want to move to a philosophy where people who park pay for the cost of parking, and we need to distribute that as much as we can amongst all employees."

Bill Collier, director of parking, said the current increases will continue for the two remaining years of the three-year plan and may even go higher, depending on certain factors, chief among them the office's debt service on parking decks. The parking office is a self-supporting auxiliary office of the University, Collier explained, and it pays its bills with a combination of user fees, fringe benefit transfer from the University and visitor parking income. The benefit transfer and visitor parking make up roughly half of the office's $6 million annual budget, so the rest must come from Emory user fees. Once the office determines its expenses for a year, it sets parking rates.

"If it wasn't for [visitor parking and benefit transfer], the rates would be a lot higher than they are," Collier said. Whether the University chooses to build another parking deck will determine how much the rates will increase in coming years. "Our ultimate goal is someday to have the rates where we can have equal percentage increases across the board within categories."

One way Emory employees can avoid having to pay the higher fees is by taking advantage of the growing number of alternative transportation options offered by Community Services. For the first time, the office's rules and regulations brochure details alternative options, and parking applications will contain a survey of commuter transportation information so the office can further enhance its services.

Alternative services include MARTA subsidies for qualified employees that provide unlimited use of MARTA trains and buses, and also carpool and vanpool options. Community Services will use its new commuter database to match employees interested in carpools and vanpools with others living in their neighborhoods. And the recent formation of a transportation management association with Emory's Clifton Corridor neighbors increases the number of potential carpool and vanpool riders significantly.

"Next fall is going to be very tight with parking," Gaither said. "We're marketing alternative transportation programs, and we're asking more people to consider commuter options rather than single-occupancy vehicles."

In another effort to improve customer service, Parking Office staff will make several trips to Emory Clinic, Emory Hospital and campus offices to personally distribute hang tags and deck cards. All the dates will be from mid to late January, and the exact times and locations will be printed in Emory Report.

-Michael Terrazas

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