By Zack Downing, Staff Writer
Over the winter break, UMass Dartmouth increased the prices of every kind of campus-wide parking ticket.
Most tickets that were $10 or $20 originally jumped to $30, while the handicap ticket doubled from $50 to $100.
There were also two new violations added to the campus rulebook. Make sure not to park in the chancellor’s spot, or any other reserved spot, because that’s now a $30 fine. The second new fine is $30 for parking in a lot other than your assigned lot.
Parking has always been central to campus life at UMass D, especially to commuters, and with a dense amount of commuters comes a lack of room for parking. Students breaking rules when it comes to parking spots is nothing easy to prevent, but with these new changes it’s more costly to get caught.
One common trick students use has been to park in illegal zones on the side of Ring Road with the car’s hazard lights on, as if the situation was an emergency. The fine for that has doubled from $15 to $30.
Other noteworthy increases include a bump from $10 to $30 for a missing parking decal, and a $30 fine for interfering with a plow’s snow removal.
Campus police will be cracking down on rulebreakers more devoutly this semester than ever before. DPS is implementing a License Plate Recognition System, which will identify cars that repeatedly break rules and cars that continue to lack a parking decal.
The email listing full violations and modifications was sent out on December 7 by the administration. What’s interesting about the email is that they compared each parking fee to other state colleges, to show that UMass Dartmouth actually has cheap parking prices compared to other institutions.
It’s a bit odd to see the administration defend itself prematurely, but it does make the fees seem more acceptable, even in the wake of the increase. For example, parking in a fire lane is $45 at UMass Amherst and up to $75 at UMass Boston, but UMass D increased it to $30.
All these changes come in the wake of a long, comprehensive study of parking on campus by Vanasse Hangin Brustlin, an engineering consultant hired by UMass D. Cars were counted, open forums were held, and numbers were crunched. However, it seems that VHB sees no cause for concern, as the study has produced no immediate changes to parking infrastructure. Instead of a parking lot addition or redesign, the only thing that’s been modified is ticket prices.
While the engineering experts seem to be satisfied with the status of parking on campus, the student base largely isn’t.
“$30 is insane for a parking ticket,” says Jillian Yates, a junior and a local commuter, “they decrease the number of available spots, increase the price of passes, AND increase the price of tickets. At this rate it’s not even worth it to have a car. Might as well just walk.”
“How do we solve the parking problem?” asks Ben-Guan Kennedy, digital media major. “Charge more people for parking in the lack of spaces, do nothing about making more spaces, problem solved!”
Students may be dejected about the current state of parking, but it doesn’t mean the idea of parking lot changes are off the table. After the open forums, the administration is certainly aware of the feelings of the student base, and there’s physical room for expansion.
Also, student numbers are slowly lowering, as they are around the country. Perhaps the lots won’t be quite as full a couple years from now.
Whatever the future holds, make sure to get to parking spots early and avoid accruing any ticket fees.