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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Parking and Transportation Department $442,750 in the Red

The graph shows what percent of its budget the Parking and Transportation department spends on continuity operations. 

The graph shows what percent of its budget the Parking and Transportation department spends on continuity operations. 

  

 

On Oct. 11, roughly 200 people gathered on the UMass Boston plaza to protest the proposed parking fee increase. According to Professional Staff Union PresidentTom Goodkind, “That very successful demonstration was organized  by a large committee of staff, students and faculty. 

The demonstrators personally delivered to the Chancellor’s in-box, sheet by sheet, the petition signed by over 5,200 people demanding that the fee increase stop.

“The fact is, the campus is opposed to the parking fee increase,” Goodkind said. “The administration needs to find other solutions to their fiscal problems, solutions which no longer place the burden on students and our lowest-paid staff.”

A single-file line of protesters, including faculty, students and union members, stretched from the Chancellor’s office, on the third floor of the Quinn Building, down to the plaza.

Director of Communications Dewayne Lehman, described the protest as “orderly and respectful.” He added, “In these difficult financial times, the university does not take lightly any decision that could result in increased costs for our students and employees, and will continue to work with the campus community to overcome the challenges we face.”

Askold Melnyczuk, associate professor in the English department, has been teaching at UMass Boston for 11 years. He joined the protest to support the students who helped to organize the demonstration. “I think it is essential for students to take an active part in the creation of their whole educational experience,” Melnyczuk said. “Our students make a lot of sacrifices to be here, and we shouldn’t ask for them to make any that turn education into more of financial burden than it already is.”

The parking and transportation office is not supported by the university’s operating budget. Parking fee support all of the office’s expenses, which include seasonal maintenance, payroll and shuttle buses. According to Director of Parking and Transportation Steve Martinson, the operation of shuttle buses accounts for around 60 percent of the department’s expenses. When the office fails to break even, as has been the case in two of the last four years, the university subsidizes the difference.

Martinson listed increased shuttle costs, staffing expense, maintenance and equipment costs as the reasons the transportation department sometimes operates at a deficit.

He also explained that the university strives to reduce the number of people of choose to commute by car. “Part of the Master Plan is to try and reduce the amount of cars on campus to make it a greener place. As the parking fee stands now, if you do not consider gas expenses or insurance, parking on campus is a cheaper option than taking public transportation. We believe this increases the number of drivers on campus, which is not what we want,” Martinson said.

Jose Velez, a finance and accounting major, took issue with the idea that a fee increase is a green option. “Some people are here almost every day; some work here and some basically live here. It is unfair to penalize the people who want to or have to drive to campus,” he said.

Mary Jo Connelly, who works with the Professional Staff Union, participated in the protest on her day off because she believes the parking policy is unfair. “It is not fair to have high parking fees and ask everyone to pay the same amount regardless of their income,” said Connelly. “I also feel there is a lot more the university could do to support people who want to take public transit.”

Several solutions to the apparent need for increased revenue are being discussed. One idea is to add the parking office to the university’s operating budget, while maintaining a $6 fee. Another idea is to adjust the price of each lot so that those closer to campus cost more than the lots further away. Another option is to introduce to start charging for the shuttle service.

Alexis Marvel, the elected student on the Board of Trustees, and Jesse Wright, study body president, also took part in the demonstration.

Wright categorically stated that he would oppose a fee increase of any kind: “My job is to represent the students as their voice. The unions have given me that opportunity at the negotiating table and I will make sure my vote counts and that the students are going to be protected from fee hikes, if it is the last thing I can do.”

 

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Tom Goodkind’s position and role in the demonstration. Tom Goodkind is the Professional Staff Union President, and that the demonstration was a collaborative effort. The Mass Media apologizes for the error.