Faculty, staff face parking pass challenges

Samantha Wright

Students aren’t the only ones bracing for the parking fee changes next semester. Several alterations have been made to parking for staff and faculty for the 2015-16 school year.

For a $655 fee, all full-time, eligible faculty and staff are allowed to request a reserved parking space on campus. which is open for personal use during business days from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. This was formerly only available to the administration, but after requests, it has been opened to more staff.

Jennifer Tougas, director of Parking and Transportation Services, said PTS tries to keep their prices comparable to other Kentucky universities.

“Aside from the gated faculty/staff and reserved faculty/staff, for those two we were right in line with most of the other institutions, but when you look at premium and non-premium parking in particular, we were well below and in the lower half of the institutional benchmarks of the Kentucky institutions we looked at,” she said via email.

PTS compared parking options and costs for the 2014-15 school year with 24 other universities, including Northern Illinois University, University of Louisville and the University of South Alabama. 

WKU used six other universities that offered reserve parking for faculty and staff to generate ideas on the new structure. WKU’s $655 fees were above the average ($535) and mean ($504) fees of those schools, according to documents provided by PTS.

WKU’s non-premium parking pass went from $95 to $100. The premium parking pass went from $185 to $220. The gated  permit pass remained the same at $400.

Only nine other universities offered gated parking options for faculty and staff. WKU’s $400 cost was above the average ($391) and the median ($370)

All of the universities surveyed had a non-premium parking option for faculty and staff. WKU’s $95 fee was below the average and median fees of other universities. 

For premium faculty and staff parking fees, WKU’s $185 fee was below the average $249 cost and median $250 cost  of the four other universities that had the options.

The last permit cost increase was in 2008. Every year, PTS surveys how parking spots are used to decide how to allocate spaces for faculty and staff. There have been several changes this year to reflect this, such as moving faculty parking into Parking Structure 1.

Patricia Minter, associate professor of history, has some qualms about the price raise.

“My concern about raising parking fees is that the costs always impact lower-income employees more than higher income ones,” she said.

Money made from the permits will go towards upgrades and construction. For example, the gate equipment at the Gated Regents lot will be replaced.

Tougas said PTS will also explore adding areas where faculty and staff can pay to use a parking spot for only a specific time.