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    Thursday, September 15, 2005

    BYU's Utterly Stupid Administrators

    I day or two ago I talked up BYU's accolades, but made the caveat that I would continue to lambast the administration for their idiocies.

    Well, today I do.

    I have written in the past (a couple weeks ago??) about the stupid parking pass decision made this year by some idiot in the administration who obviously did not graduate from elementary school. BYU's PR director had the audacity to get on the radio and defend the decision after public outcry the first week of the semester. With apologies to Newsnet, the student-run news service at the university, I want to reprint an op-ed piece in it's entirety.

    By Mike Saito

    To be honest, I was flabbergasted by BYU's free parking policy. The worst part is the fact that BYU has students who ride the bus make up the lost parking permit income. This policy has serious flaws and will not help reduce traffic congestion, pollution and neighborhood parking problems.

    Flaw one is a historical fact. Free parking never reduces congestion; it simply encourages people to drive more.

    Flaw two is a serious one. The scheme to make up the lost parking permit income by UTA-pass sales means that the bus users, who contribute to the reduction of traffic congestion, air pollution and parking lot maintenance costs, are charged for their good work. Those who create congestion, pollute and damage the pavement are let go of their responsibility without any user fee. This means those who buy bus passes are taxed twice: they pay for the bus pass and at the same time they pay for the maintenance of parking lots.

    Flaw three is ultimate nonsense. Parking office manger Greg Barber says students already have enough financial worries. Has he ever thought that those who purchase bus passes have enough financial worries? The free parking policy systematically discriminates against those who use the bus and contribute to the improvement of the community and environment. It is a shame that BYU created a policy that promotes social inequality.

    Flaw four is a lack of understanding the parking problem here. The real problem is not the parking fee. It is the location of student parking lots. It is the geography of BYU campus. Practically all lecture halls are located at the south end of the campus, while large student parking lots are located at the north. The BYU administration thinks a 15-minute walk is easy. Well that logic hasnÂ’t made sense to students for many years. Such a statement shouldnÂ’t be made by the people who park at premium locations without even paying a dime.

    There is a better solution that directly targets the campus geography-related parking problems, promotes social equality and teaches the basic economic principle of user costs to students. Charge a transportation systems fee to all – students, faculty and staff. Yes, faculty and staff should also pay because they too contribute to traffic congestion and air pollution. Besides, they are already enjoying parking at premium locations. Once the fee is paid, give them a “free” parking and “free” bus pass; let them have alternatives. This way, both students who drive and students who ride the bus pay for their user costs. No one gets a free meal. Use the pooled fund to provide shuttle service between the student parking lots and the lecture hall area of campus, either by BYU owned vehicles or by negotiating with UTA.

    I give a grade of F to those who came up with this flawed free parking policy. As an alumnus of BYU, I cannot remain silent about this nonsense. If BYU gives free parking to those who drive to school, it should give free bus passes to students who donÂ’t. Refund $60 to all students who purchased bus passes!

    Mike Saito is a professor of transportation engineering in the Civil Engineering Department at BYU.

    I cannot agree with the flaws he points out more. Parking, already horrible, has becomeunconscionablescioable this year. More cars, more pollution, more mad drivers looking frantically for parking before class...not building the "christlike virtues" BYU purports to do.

    I, however, have a different solution than Dr. Saito. A general parking fee is a good remedy, but I think a gradated fee based on proximity fits the market better. BYU just built a massive underground parking lot in the center of campus. Faculty and staff have more parking than ever. I say you designate a few parking lots as "visitor," and combine the rest. No more A (faculty) C (freshman) Y (general student) and G (graduate student) lots. Make lots A, B, C, or D lots based on proximity. Those with the highest demand cost the most (A) and those farthest away cost the least (D). Allow faculty and staff to buy stickers before the student body, so they can get parking spaces most convenient.

    This solution not only makes the parking equitable, but turns it into a profitable endeavor for the school. If parking lots on 800N (just south of campus) are the most demanded lots (which they are), sell them for $100 or $200 a year. Sell the D lots (probably north lots) for the base $60 price. Since price is variable on demand, BYU will always make money, can raise or lower price per year, and provide professors with ample parking (provided they don't want to keep biking like our FIT professors do now). Use profits from the parking passes to subsidize bus passes, but not making them free (perhaps $20). This provides incentive for students and faculty to take the bus system, but also provides some sense of ownership, so thousands of passes are not printed needlessly. Overhead stays low.

    In the end, everyone will be happy. Those who value parking will pay what they feel is the value, and drive to school. Those who cannot or will not, can buy affordable bus passes. BYU makes money off of the system, allowing better maintenance of the parking lots. Everybody wins.

    3 comments:

    RyeBrye said...

    I know this is an ancient post, but I am up late. I'm still miffed about the parking myself. Here's my blog post about it:

    http://www.ryebrye.com/blog/2005/09/07/byu-forces-students-to-live-in-walking-distance-allows-them-to-park-their-cars-for-free/

    Basically I think that the person who is in charge of making the decisions about parking should be forced to park in Y-lots. His attitude might change.

    Justin said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Justin said...

    Thanks for your post! We are working hard to get people to realize the major problems with the system. I love your idea about graduated parking! We have petitioned BYU administration to reconsider their decision to end the bus passes. We have asked them if there is anything we can do to help. The only thing they have offered is that if we can come up with an affordable solution. I think your idea is a really great one! I would love to write it up and submit it to the administration. We have just created a website to encourage awareness of this issue. Please check it out and blog about it. www.byubusstop.org. Thanks!