Some Ohio State employees are not pleased with one of the changes to the school’s parking permit regulations.
Faculty and administrative personnel who bought the WA permit last year have had to buy a newly created pass to have the same benefits they had last year — but at a price increase of 50 percent.
Two years ago, OSU leased its parking operations to Australian private investment firm QIC Global Infrastructure in a 50-year, $483 million deal. CampusParc, the company that runs the day-to-day parking services, was created as part of the contract — one that also capped yearly permit price increases at 5.5 percent.
Last year’s WA permit allowed the holder to park on West Campus surface lots, as well as some limited parking garage privileges, at a price of $207 a year.
This year, however, the garage access was stripped from the WA permit and its price was increased by the allotted 5.5 percent to about $219. Meanwhile, CampusParc created the WAE permit for faculty and staff, which carries the same benefits as last year’s WA — West Campus surface parking and limited garage access — for $315.96 a year.
Dan Hedman, a spokesman for the Office of Administration and Planning, said in an email that the university, with an advisory committee of faculty, staff and students, and CampusParc work together each year on making changes to the school’s parking organization, and the permit creation was agreed upon by both parties.
“The (Parking Advisory Committee) serves in an advisory capacity to the administration of the university as it relates to parking,” Hedman wrote. “In this instance, it was determined collaboratively that the WAE is properly priced to ensure that students and staff pay the same for similar privileges.”
Students cannot buy a permit with both West Campus surface parking and garage access, but they can purchase a CE permit, allowing them to park on Central Campus and in some garages during off-peak hours, for $510.96.
The change, though, has drawn criticism from some faculty and staff members.
“If they can make the WAE right now, probably, later on, they can create the (WAAE). You can have privilege of parking for (WAE) if you purchase (WAAE), which is another way to increase the parking price without violating the rule they’re bonded by,” said Jeff Pan, a statistician at the OSU Wexner Medical Center. “I’m worried about the things they can manipulate in the parking policy.”
Clark Larsen, chair of the Department of Anthropology, has an A permit that allows him to park on Central Campus and have garage access for $841.56 per year, but he said he doesn’t like the ramifications of the recent permit change down the line.
“I think this could be difficult moving on. If they increase the cost of other pass types, I wouldn’t be surprised,” Larsen said. “I don’t think this is a good thing to do, just because it’s a huge increase in the cost of that pass, plus the possible implications for future types of passes.”
Anthony Utz, IT systems manager in the School of Environment and Natural Resources, said he worries there will continue to be changes. He had a WA pass last year and purchased the same pass again this year.
”My complaint is that we were assured before, during and after the lease of OSU parking that a cap was set to limit parking rate increases. We are two years in and our promise has already been broken,” Utz said in an email. “Who is next?”
The creation of the new permit for faculty and administrative personnel leaves the door open for something similar to be done to the student permit lineup, a CampusParc spokesman said.
“We currently have no plans to (create a new permit for students), however, there is always a possibility for CampusParc to recommend other new permits, and the university will always have the ability to approve or deny any recommendation,” CampusParc spokesman David Hoover said in an email. “Of course, we must operate within the constraints and considerations of supply and demand of parking, particularly on Central Campus.”
Siyuan Ma, a third-year Ph.D candidate in computer science and engineering, has a student C pass that allows him to park in Central Campus lots for $293.76 per year. Although he was uneasy about the permit change, if a similar one happened to students, he said he would accept it as long as the university agreed to it.
“Frankly (it doesn’t worry me) that much,” Ma said. “Because they have a good reason, and the (Parking Advisory Committee) from the university agreed with this, so it seems reasonable somehow.
“But I also agree with the concern because if they can do this for this permit, then maybe they can find another different reason and also raise the price for the C permit. But it’s very unlikely, I think.”
Hoover said 366 WAE passes had been purchased as of Aug. 26, along with 1,279 WAs, versus the 1,902 WA permits sold last year. Hoover said the university expected “additional sales of both permits.”