Students decry downsides of UTA contract

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    By Stacey Wismer

    Student drivers will have a new reason to ride the bus in the fall with the price of parking permits increasing by three times.

    The renewal of BYU”s contract with the Utah Transit Authority creates mixed reactions, as the increase in parking permits, from $15 to $60, will compensate for free bus rides.

    “The people using the bus should pay for it, instead of passing it on to the other extreme,” said Aaron Pacini, 23, majoring in business management from Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County.

    However, even with an increase in parking fees, the majority of students were in favor of continuing the free bus service, according to an online survey and many other discussions, said Carri Jenkins, assistant to the president for University Communications.

    “The survey was sent to every student, and every student had an opportunity to respond,” she said.

    Pacini said the survey was a misrepresentation of the student population. “If I see a UTA survey on my e-mail, I just delete it,” said Pacini, assuming that the e-mail did not concern him.

    The people who took the survey use the bus service, suggesting that they don”t have cars, and therefore they don”t care if there is an increase in parking fees, he said.

    Many students who ride the bus don”t seem to mind that UTA”s compensation will come from their fellow student drivers.

    “It doesn”t bother me, I don”t have a car,” said Robyn Hoover, 20, majoring in elementary education, from Frederick, Md. “If you”re going to have a car, you might as well pay the extra.”

    Some students suggested that there will be less congestion on the roads. However, many students who buy parking permits don”t drive to school, but must use the permits to park at their own apartment complex.

    “What about the people like us that don”t commute to school?” said Megan Richardson, 19, a sophomore majoring in health sciences, from Ogden, Weber County.

    Because of the limited number of parking spaces at Richardson”s complex, her roommates park at the Y lot next to their apartments.

    “I don”t ride the bus and it”s not free if I have to pay for it through a parking pass,” said Meghan Mitchell, Richardson”s roommate, a sophomore majoring in accounting, from Ogden, Weber County.

    Students at Wyview apartments also buy BYU parking permits just to park at their own complex.

    “Some people are just going to have to take the hit,” said Dan Mecham, 23, majoring in information systems, from Glendale, Ariz.

    Jenkins said increasing the price of parking fees was the only option if BYU wished to continue its contract with UTA.

    However, other colleges and universities in Utah have found alternatives to increasing parking fees, while still offering “free” bus services.

    For example at the University of Utah, every student is assessed an extra 85 cents per credit hour each semester to compensate UTA, said Alma Allred, director of commuter services.

    In Utah Valley State College”s decision to renew their contract, several options are being considered, said Steve Jackson, director of parking and transportation.

    UVSC is working with Orem city to encourage property owners near UVSC to finance a continuing contract with UTA, he said.

    Weber State is also considering an eco-pass contract with UTA. “I”m scared of the impact it will have on parking fees,” said Lisa Martinez, parking manager.

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