As USC’s Office of Parking Services seeks more remedies to parking problems on campus, students continue to struggle with unaffordable parking permits and a lack of available parking spots during classes.
According to Koby Padgett, USC’s communications manager for the Division of Administration and Finance, the reason behind the high prices for garage parking is the cost that is required to build and maintain the parking garages. It typically costs an average of around $15,000 to $16,000 per space to build a garage.
“At what we’re charging, it takes over 20 years to pay for the construction costs of the garage; and, plus, we’re still paying for electricity; lighting; elevators; signs; regular maintenance on those that can cost almost as much as a semester of parking in the garage,” Padgett said.
Padgett said the university does its best to keep parking prices low for students, and he said he encourages people to look into the parking prices at schools such as the University of Alabama and Vanderbilt University.
“Our prices haven’t moved in four years, and costs have gone up in those four years. So, we are trying to be cognizant of prices for students,” Padgett said.
The university has also been trying to move parking further away from campus in order to create a more “pedestrian and bike-friendly place.”
According to Padgett, many of the parking options they have been working on are no longer near academic buildings. These options include the Founders Park surface lot, located on Williams Street, and the BullStreet District Park & Ride option, where students can park and wait for a bus that comes every 20 minutes to take them to campus.
“It does take some planning. It does take some forward thinking, but those are options out there that, again, from my limited time looking around, they’ve always had available parking for people,” Padgett said.
Third-year public relations student Amaya Emmons ended up missing several of her classes on the first day of class because of standstill traffic and a lack of available parking spaces.
“I tried to leave hours beforehand, or like, a solid time period before the class started, and because the traffic was just so horrible, and because the trains kept stopping on the tracks, and there was no parking, I literally couldn’t get to any of my classes, and I felt so awful,” Emmons said.
Emmons did not purchase a parking pass because she had friends inform her that she could park in either the Bull Street Parking Garage or the Bates Parking Lot, which was torn down. She drove through the Bull Street Parking Garage three times while she was searching for parking and was unable to find a parking spot.
Emmons said she believes the current USC parking system is set up for students to fail and that there isn’t enough parking available for the amount of students on campus.
“I feel like the system is designed to try and get as much money out of us as possible, so I really don’t feel like they would be working towards a solution for them to find a better way for us to park because I think the goal — honestly, I think the goal is, 'How many parking tickets can we hand out, how many tow trucks can we have out here, how much money can the city make off of this issue,'” Emmons said.
Third-year computer science student Nathan Dolbir thinks that a solution to the current parking problem at USC could be building on top of existing parking lots and garages instead of expanding away from campus.
“I believe that, if they want to fix the parking issue, the way they do that is to make better parking and more available parking, so I do think that they could just scale vertically and build. If we don’t have enough space to construct new lots, then just make the spaces we do have better and more available,” Dolbir said.
According to Padgett, the university has a track record of making frequent, small developments in parking each year. No mention was made of any future larger parking projects.
“We are continually, continually looking at it and seeing what we can do, year by year, to provide the service needed for our campus,” Padgett said.