UW News

April 3, 2008

Public meeting on proposed increases to parking, U-PASS set for April 9

With gas prices and bus fares rising and a new parking tax in place, the cost of UW parking permits and U-PASS cards will also likely go up. Proposed increases for 2008-09 average about 13 percent for the U-PASS and 12 percent for parking permits.

But you can have your say. UW Commuter Services will hold a public meeting to discuss proposed increases to these rates from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 9, in 310 HUB, and all members of the campus community are encouraged to attend.

You can read the specific fee increases online <a href=http://www.washington.edu/commuterservices/parking/Fees2008_09.php>here</a>. And if you can’t attend the public meeting, there will be space at that Web site to express your views on the proposed increases.

If the proposed increases are enacted unchanged,

  • An unlimited U-PASS (providing rides on Metro, Community Transit, Sound Transit and Sounder Rail) will cost $23 a month for faculty and staff. That reflects an increase of about 13 percent over the current rate.
  • A Single Occupancy Vehicle (SOV) parking permit will cost faculty and staff $285 a quarter, which reflects an increase of about 12 percent.

Recent increases in parking and U-PASSes have averaged about 5.5 percent a year, according to Commuter Services, but last year there was no increase at all.

“The decision to hold rates steady last year simply didn’t anticipate the perfect storm of cost increases we’ve faced,” said Josh Kavanagh, director of Transportation Services. “Transit fares, taxes, concrete, steel, asphalt, and labor — costs for every input to the campus transportation system are rising rapidly.”

Metro raised its fare rates 17 percent starting March 1. “It’s not just the fare increase; with rising gas prices we’ve seen more people riding transit,” noted Kavanagh. “It’s a double whammy to see our cost per boarding and the number of boardings rise at the same time.”

Taxes are also increasingly a significant cost. The City of Seattle initiated a new tax on commercial parking lots as of July 1, 2007, and increased it for 2008. Washington State sales tax increased .02 percent in 2007.

There are also infrastructure needs, including maintaining existing parking facilities and acquiring or building those necessary to support UW Tower and mitigate the impact of Sound Transit construction.

The U-PASS remains “a steal of a deal,” Commuter Services says. A two-zone Metro pass outside the UW system costs $81 a month and a Community Transit pass is $108 a month.

By comparison, UW faculty and staff pay $23 a month — or 11.50 a pay check — for unlimited bus travel.