Monday's board editorial, "No (Night) Parking," and a reader's letter, "TPAC Decision on Night Parking" contain misstatements that will leave Daily Tar Heel readers ill-informed without clarification.
First, no final decisions have been made about night parking. The Transportation and Parking Advisory Committee voted 13-7, with one abstention, last week to agree that a night parking program might be among its final recommendations. The most recent TPAC discussions focused on having some free night parking available for all students as well as other restricted lots for faculty or employees working nights. Students and employees shared their concerns about safety if free night parking were eliminated during the Feb. 5 campus parking forums. I believe TPAC members take their concerns seriously. Second, TPAC has never seriously considered charging students $363 for a night parking permit. That figure represents the charge for a daytime permit in a gated parking lot. It was used to illustrate potential revenue from a night parking program. Regrettably, campus e-mail now circulating erroneously says students would be charged $363. A related misconception in the editorial is that employees and students parking at night would pay for an additional parking permit. That is false. Anyone already paying for a day permit would not pay twice to park at night. Finally, the editorial didn't make clear an important point about how a day permit increase might affect the current budget shortfall facing the Department of Public Safety as it has expanded fare-free transit service in partnership with Chapel Hill Transit. Raising the price of each day permit by about $12 monthly would make up a $2 million revenue shortfall in the Department of Public Safety's 2002-03 budget. However, many lower-paid university employees who received both a small salary increase this year and a large health-care insurance rate hike spoke against this idea during recent parking forums. Most TPAC members agree that the entire burden of eliminating the $2 million deficit should not be borne by a single campus constituency. TPAC will continue to deliberate about night parking during its upcoming meetings. That is just one of several complex parking and related issues facing both the committee and the campus community.
Robert A. Knight