OPINION: Daily commuters should get discounted campus parking permits
It’s hard enough to roll out of bed to make an 8 a.m. class. For the 88 percent of SF State students who live off campus, the struggle is even more real. Many students must rely on the questionably steadfast steeds known as Muni and BART. For some, it’s a traffic-ridden car commute across the bridge. But this semester, being a student at a “commuter school” is about to get a lot more difficult.
“Please pay your fare share” is a phrase that rings an all too familiar bell if you’re a regular Muni patron. But is it really fair? Effective September 1, Muni fares will rise from $2 to $2.25 and Muni and BART fast passes will increase by $2 and $4 respectively.
Drivers will also be impacted because daily on-campus parking rates have increased from $6 to $7. In 2010, it only cost $5 a day to park at school.
The impending hike in parking rates and Muni fares will make it even more difficult than before to get to and from SF State. Among ever-increasing rent, tuition, health fees and overpriced books the least of a student’s worries should be affording their morning commute.
Let’s break it down—say you have classes 4 days a week. If Muni is your preferred method of transit, that’s $80 a month. If you drive every day, parking alone is $112. What about the days paying for laundry or your utilities bill takes precedence? Be prepared to see more empty seats in your lectures this semester as people may not be able to afford the commute to class.
SF State also offers a semester-long parking pass, but at nearly $450 for a Monday through Thursday permit, it’s not much of a deal.
It doesn’t end there. The recent hike in transit prices is part of a plan implemented in 2009 aimed to gradually increase fare prices every two years until 2020. The plan will bring in an estimated $325 million in revenue that will go toward new projects like a control system that will run trains more frequently. Hopefully this will end crowded commutes and seemingly endless bus stop wait times. The same goes for parking—we can only hope the increase in rates will supply an expanded parking structure so trying to find a parking spot is no longer a quest for the Holy Grail.
So what’s the solution? First of all, students should not have to struggle to get to school. While going to a university is obviously a huge investment in and of itself, we shouldn’t have to worry about how we’re going to get there. And we definitely should not have to be given an ultimatum when thinking about where to spend our hard-earned paychecks or grants—food or MUNI fare? A parking pass or rent?
SFMTA should recognize that the majority of State students use public transportation to get to school. University of San Francisco students are given Muni passes each semester with a small fee tacked onto their tuition. Students at USF, where nearly 40 percent of students live on campus, are able to ride the bus in ignorant bliss, unaware of the disparity.
SF State faculty are given heavily discounted parking passes. Why aren’t students given the same liberties?
Daily commuters should get discounted parking permits like faculty do. We work just as hard to be here. We should be commended, not punished. If SF State is a commuter school, why doesn’t it cater to commuters?