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UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Ongoing Negotiations Stall Parking Fee Increase

Not+much+changed+in+transportation%2C+at+least+not+yet.
Not much changed in transportation, at least not yet.

 

 

Students returning to UMass Boston may remember the warnings about reduced parking availability and a looming parking fee increase. Those fears can be put to rest, but only until the spring semester. Lots that were supposed to be closed because of construction are still open. A possible parking fee increase is currently being negotiated, but a decision will not be reached until next spring at the earliest.

When interviewed by The Mass Media, Jeff McCue, assistant vice chancellor of Human Resources, refused to comment on the reasons behind the proposed increase in parking fees. “At this time, we are still in active bargaining with campus unions on parking issues. Accordingly, it would be inappropriate to comment on matters reserved for the bargaining table at this time,” McCue said.

The Faculty Staff Union’s interim president, professor of economics Marlene Kim, believes the administration has not thoroughly considered the ramifications of a parking fee increase. “A fee increase will make students and faculty members less likely to attend campus events,” Kim said. “Some people are considering parking off campus, which will crowd the neighborhood and hurt community relations.”

Undergraduate Student Government President Jesse Wright also opposes a fee increase. Despite the fact that students have no legal right to be part of the negotiations between administration and union, Wright is attempting to make known student opposition to a fee increase. To that effect, he has started an online petition on change.org, with 815 supporters as of Sept 3.

In the meantime, some planned changes to the transportation system may make parking on campus or taking the shuttle more convenient.

A plan to let motorists pay by credit card is in the works. “The current system can only take cash,” explained Steve Martinson, director of Transportation Services. “We hope that sometime in the fall we will be able to accept credit cards. We hope that this will make things easier for people.”

Martinson confirmed that the 2,470 parking spaces available last spring will remain available. The Bayside lot and its additional 1,300 spaces will continue to operate on a part-time basis, open only when the on-campus lots are full.

Motorists who park in lot D will soon have a shorter walk to class, due to the university’s acquisition of the old Calf Pasture Pumping Station, which sits between lots B and D. Until now, explained Manager of Master Plan and Construction Communications Holly Sutherland, the building formerly owned and operated by Boston Water and Sewer was considered unsafe for students to walk close by.

Recently, however, UMass Boston struck a deal with Boston Water and Sewer to acquire the property, by agreeing to award $1,000 scholarships to UMB-eligible Boston area students. The building will be paid off when the university has awarded $2 million in scholarships. With the acquisition, the university has secured the structure, and soon the chain link fence that separates lots B and D will be taken down–saving valuable walking time.

Improvements are also being made to shuttle services. The Transportation department has partnered with Crystal Bus Company, and is having GPS devices installed on the shuttle busses. This new device will allow students interested in knowing exactly when the next shuttle bus will arrive to visit a website and see the shuttles making the rounds in real time.

The GPS reporting “doesn’t seem necessary to me,” I.T. major Tim McLaughlin mused. “They seem to show up every 5 minutes.”

Necessary or not, soon all would-be shuttle passengers will be able to plan the trip to their front doors with precision.