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Campus Announces Changes to Parking Plan

July 12, 2010

New tiered system includes increased rate for preferred lots;
no change to rates for Lake Lots

Quick Facts
  • New, optional “A” permits will cost $65 per month and will
    allow parking in “preferred” lots closest to campus buildings. “B”
    permits will cost $30 and will allow parking in the Lake Lots.
  • The changes take effect Sept. 1, and permits from the 2009-10
    school year will remain valid until then.
  • The changes were recommended by an advisory committee
    comprising faculty, staff and undergraduate and graduate students.

MERCED — UC Merced’s Transportation and Parking Services
(TAPS) have announced a new parking plan for the campus, featuring
a tiered system that includes a higher rate for preferred lots but
no rate change to permits for lower lots — changes
recommended by the TAPS Advisory Committee, which comprises
faculty, staff and students and is advisory to the Vice Chancellor
for Administration.

Under the new plan, which takes effect Sept. 1 — permits
from 2009-10 will continue to be valid until then — the Le
Grand Lot (formerly the Science and Engineering Lot), the Academic
Office Annex Lot and the Upper Library Lot (the paved lot closest
to the library) will be considered “preferred” parking.

Permits for these lots, called “A” permits, will cost $65 per
month. These permits are optional and will be available to faculty
and staff, as well as teaching assistants and graduate student researchers.

The changes, approved by Chancellor Steve Kang, are designed to
address the ever-increasing demand for parking spaces near
buildings and are in line with policies at most UC campuses, said
Vice Chancellor for Administration Mary Miller.

“As our campus continues its steady, robust growth, parking will
be something we’ll have to address on a regular basis,” Miller
said. “The advisory committee felt this was a fair, sensible way to
accommodate the current demand and decrease the daily rush for
parking spaces, all while providing badly needed funds to improve
our future parking infrastructure.”

If demand is sufficiently high for the optional “A” permits, two
additional lots will be deemed “preferred”: the Lower Library Lot
(the gravel lot adjacent to the Upper Library Lot) and the Muir
Pass Lot (on Ranchers Road near the volleyball courts). The “A”
permits will be sold at a ratio of 1.1 permits for each available
spot, greatly increasing the likelihood that these permit holders
will find spots available.

The current Faculty/Staff permits will be renamed “B” permits,
and the current Student Commuter permits will be renamed “C”
permits. The cost for both the “B” and “C” permits will remain at
$30 per month, and these permits will allow parking in the
“commuter lots” — the two Lake Lots and the Evolution Valley
Lot located at the entrance of campus.

In addition:

  • The current “R” permits for reserved spaces will remain
    available, but the cost will increase from $78 to $91 per month.
  • Fleet vehicles (those used for official university business),
    which previously required no fees to park on campus, will now be
    subject to a fee of $91 per month for preferred lots and $42 per
    month for peripheral lots.
  • Intercampus permits for staff will be replaced by University
    Business (UB) permits, which will be purchased at each department’s
    discretion and must have approval by the department head or dean.
    The fees will match those of the “A” and “B” permits, and there
    will be a maximum of five “UB” permits per department. Exceptions
    to the maximum will require the approval of the assistant director
    for TAPS.
  • Carpool spaces will remain, but the cost of those permits will
    increase to match the “A” and “B” rates of $65 and $30, respectively.

Karin Groth, assistant director for TAPS, acknowledged
complaints from those who will now park farther from their
buildings than they are accustomed to but said that because of UC
Merced’s size, it’s easy to lose sight of how close even the
peripheral lots are to the main areas of campus.

“We’ve been very fortunate to park as close to our buildings as
we do, even in our most remote lots,” Groth said. “At most
universities, premium rates would be required even to park as close
to buildings as our Lake Lots are to the quad.”

Alternatives available

TAPS plans to accommodate those parking in the commuter lots
— and those who opt not to commute to campus at all —
in a number of ways. CatTracks routes have been expanded and will
continue to do so, allowing more Merced residents to take public
transportation to campus. And those who park in the commuter lots
at the entrance to campus can catch CatTracks or the Route 22
shuttles to get up the hill.

Justin Matthews, a graduate student representative on the
advisory committee, said that in spite of the rate increase for
parking in preferred lots, the decision reached by the committee
was a necessary step to address a significant issue of supply and demand.

“Over the years, prime parking has become more and more
difficult to come by as our campus grows faster than parking can
reasonably accommodate,” Matthews said. “I know the price increase
for premium parking will be a shock, but at least eligible graduate
students now have the ability to choose whether we want to pay for
prime parking or pay significantly less to park in general parking
farther from the campus core.”

Professor William Shadish, who represents the faculty on the
advisory committee, said the changes will make parking much easier
for faculty members who choose to purchase the “A” permits.

“This change should make parking near faculty offices and labs
routinely available at any hour of the day and end the need for
faculty to constantly drive around, searching for an open space,”
Shadish said.

Maggie Vilott, associate director of Housing Business and
Operations and a staff representative on the advisory committee,
said hours upon hours of debate and discussion went into the
decision. Most campuses the committee looked at had tiered parking
systems in which most people do not park close to their respective
buildings, and ultimately the only way to truly improve the campus’
parking situation is to raise enough money to pay for improvements.

“I think people don’t understand that parking is an auxiliary
unit; it’s really a separate business all its own,” Vilott said.
“We have to continue to make some money in order to build more parking.”

More Information

Those who would like to provide input about these and future
changes to UC Merced’s parking system should contact one of their
respective representatives on the TAPS Advisory Committee: