OPINION: Students should skip on parking pass, take bus

Using public transportation instead of driving saves money, helps environment



Many WSU commuters pay over $100 a year to park on campus. With the already rising prices of tuition, this extra money can make a big difference for students. In many cases, that expense can be avoided by taking advantage of public transportation.

BRUCE MULMAT, Evergreen columnist

Parking is a huge pain and expense for students who have cars. Yet the people who say that their tuition should cover parking are misguided. Instead, think about utilizing public transit because your tuition covers that, and it is better for the environment.

“The transportation services department is a self-sustaining auxiliary. Transportation Services does not receive any money from the state or any tuition money,” said John Shaheen, director of WSU Transportation Services. “For constructing and managing and maintaining parking facilities, that is generated by parking permit fees and parking fees.”

There are a large variety of parking passes, and the costs of the passes go to keeping the parking lots and garages around campus intact as well as covering the salaries of those employed by WSU Transportation Services.

“Contrary to what people think, our fine revenue is about 12 percent of our total revenue,” Shaheen said.

Taking infrastructure for granted is an age-old tradition among many people. Yet it costs money to keep parking lots in good order.

“Every year we pull financial information together and we show that to our 15-member parking and transportation task force,” Shaheen said. “Every year we look at the financials and what we think we are going to need to support the funds for the facilities.”

While a parking pass may be convenient for those who can afford it, the lower end passes will force students to park in remote locations. The parking pass map speaks volumes, where the least expensive pass, the Blue Pass, offers parking being behind Rogers-Orton Field, across from the South Fairway Intramural Playfield and then near the food services buildings off of Wilson Road.

Simply put, even if you want a parking pass for a cheap price it will probably not be worth it. During the winter, you will still have to walk five to 10 minutes to your classes, uphill both ways since we do live in Pullman.

Why still subject yourself to a cold car and a cold walk to campus when you can take a warm bus and then walk significantly less? A bus will be a far more accessible option that you can easily plan around by using the bus schedule or the Pullman Transit app. If you can make it to the bus on time, you are far more likely to stay out of the nasty weather and won’t have to spend as much time outside.

“In order to be able to ride with a Cougar Card, the students have supported and voted to pay fees that go to support Pullman Transit operations,” Shaheen said. “If that didn’t happen, students would have to go out and pay for bus passes. It’s what we call a prepaid rider program.”

Therefore, when you complain about parking prices, realize that you have a choice. WSU and Pullman have a variety of options to get around the area. The best method being the extensive bus system that some of your tuition goes toward. Failing that, you could carpool with your friend or roommate to get places.

“I just walk or get a ride from a friend,” said Grace Zangerle, political science and pre-law double major. “I’m just too lazy to figure out the system.”

Pullman Transit specifically has bus routes that cover a large swathe of Pullman to take students from where they live right onto campus, and all you have to do is show your Cougar Card to get on. No need to spend over $100 on a parking pass when you can take a bus that won’t make you walk from a parking spot further away from your classroom.

So, if you want to complain about the cost of parking passes, feel free. However, you should realize that there are other options to get to campus, and oftentimes these options will drop you off closer to your class than if you had a parking pass.

These options are also far more environmentally friendly than commuting to campus even if you are carpooling.

Travel to campus smarter. Think about all the transit options before spending money on a parking pass.