Editorial: The naked face of UA Parking and Transportation
Nothing strips UA Parking and Transportation Services to its naked core faster than a perceived threat to its independence, or its strong business sense.
And at its naked core, the university's parking and transportation department is a business.
As such, the department is making a sound investment in parking garages. Garages are clearly investments with exceedingly high returns for everyone. They mean more parking spaces for the acreage and more revenue returns for the initial investment.
Building garages, however, take larger initial investments than simply painting spaces in an open lot. This means taking out and repaying loans and here the independent auxiliary begins to feel threatened. Here its nature begins to show.
UA Parking and Transportation Services claims it must raise permit prices on students to pay for two new garages, if it wishes to avoid assistance from other university auxiliaries in paying the construction costs. And the independent auxiliary, whose fierce love of independence became apparent last year in its fierce territory battles against the city of Tucson, definitely wishes to avoid assistance.
Instead, UA Parking and Transportation will hike the permit price for its Cherry Avenue Garage from $340 to $375 and the Park Avenue Garage from $300 to $350 by August to pay off loans. It also plans to bring all garage permit prices to $400 after the new garages are complete some time in 2001 or 2002.
It may seem an incremental increase, but it is deplorable on many levels. President-elect Cisco Aguilar noted the most immediately apparent problem: It shows the general trend of UA parking and transportation toward hiking permit prices. In his words: Frightening.
UA Parking and Transportation is an independent auxiliary on this campus and thus enjoys high discretion, scarce competition and a green light to vent its business impulses. Little exists to stop it: Not higher controls nor an open market nor, as is increasingly evident, a conscience and concern for poorer students on campus who need their vehicles to go to off-campus jobs much more than those wealthy enough to secure an increasingly higher-cost permit.
Just as disturbing is its naked business sense, which would naturally lean toward raising permit prices on students rather than seeking assistance temporarily from other means. No matter that the parking garages are a high-yield investment that will make for high returns once in place. No matter that parking and transportation ought to eat the initial costs as any responsible business would, in anticipation of these high returns.
This increase with the new garages bodes ill as other structures are built over the years.
As students, we would hope and expect a more benevolent face from this privileged on-campus business.
As students and consumers, we should expect and demand one.