Temple students recently received a memo urging them to park in on-campus lots or take SEPTA to school because of the inconvenience student cars are causing for neighborhood residents.
Unfortunately, this problem cannot be solved with memos however well-intentioned. The memo angered students who cannot afford $240 a semester for a parking spot. It also was short-sighted – there is clearly not enough parking on campus to accommodate every student and employee who drives to the university.
In addition, the recently-announced exclusion of current juniors and seniors from university housing will result in more upperclassmen – who are more likely to own a car than freshmen and sophomores – commuting to a campus that already lacks adequate parking.
If Temple wants to ease pressure on the surrounding community, it must supply more parking at lower rates, and encourage the use of public transportation with student discounts for SEPTA.
The problem is illustrated by the dirt lot at the corner of 10th Street and Montgomery Avenue. The abandoned lot, which is often a sea of mud, is packed to the gills with double- and triple-parked cars every day. A wait of more than 15 minutes for a spot is not unusual during peak times.
The fact that commuters are willing to wait that long to park in a lot that resembles a war zone (and risk dents, dings and major crack-ups) shows students are desperate for affordable parking.
The memo also urged students to consider public transportation. But Temple does little to help ease the financial burden of taking SEPTA; the only discount offered is for three months’ worth of SEPTA TransPasses, which must be purchased in advance after doing needless paperwork.
For students who only take on bus or the subway to school, the pass isn’t worth it. And for students in the suburbs, it is often faster to drive to Temple rather than to the local regional rail line.
The University should work with SEPTA to offer discounted tokens, train tickets and passes at the bookstore on a daily basis, rather than perpetuating this red-tape nightmare. Students at every Philadelphia public school can buy special school tokens for 90 cents a piece every day, so why can’t we?
We understand that on-campus development often proceeds at a slow pace; but on-campus parking has become a serious quality of life issue for both local residents and students. Memos urging us to park on-campus will not solve the problem.
Only a serious effort by the University to provide plentiful and affordable parking as well as SEPTA incentives will help ease the parking nightmare.