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The Daily Tar Heel

Night parking on campus to remain free for all

Students and faculty received an email Thursday announcing the postponement of the Night Parking Program. The program required nighttime employees to purchase a permit, and students had to pay a $10.40 fee.

“Well it’s been delayed, but it’s going to happen,” said Charles Streeter, chair of the Employee Forum. “I’m happy for those people who it would have affected... but we all have to understand that it’s just a delay. It has not been abolished.”

The new program was initially proposed in response to maintenance costs for campus parking, Streeter said.

Matt Fajack, vice chancellor for finance and administration, said there was a number of questions surrounding the new parking program, like who should pay and what the right allocation of costs would be.

There were concerns about night employees subsidizing the cost to expand parking to meet daytime needs, Fajack said.

“There were just enough questions out there that we said ‘You know, we really have to step back a little bit, defer this implementation and study it further,’” he said.

Fajack didn’t know whether this particular parking program would be reinstated in the future but did say the next five-year parking study would begin in the 2015-16 academic year.

In the meantime, parking policies will remain consistent with recent years, he said.

Fajack said the major focus right now is reimbursing the students and staff who have already purchased night parking permits.

Thomas Thornburg, a member of the Department of Public Safety’s Advisory Committee on Transportation, said the question with parking is always how to pay for and upgrade the current system.

He said there is a revenue issue with the transportation system that needs to be addressed in some way.

“The system still faces a big issue about how do you fund the whole system together,” Thornburg said.

“I mean, how do you fund infrastructure for parking with the bus system and all those kinds of things?”

The delay to the new parking program could be the result of new hires among senior leadership, Thornburg said.

“My guess is folks (who haven’t been here in the past) got together and said, ‘We don’t feel good about what this looks like based on the kind of feedback we’re getting from the community,’” he said. “And that’s perfectly fair.”

Thornburg said he thought the planning process for the night parking program was fairly open but that changing budgetary circumstances could have played a factor in its delay.

“I understand issues about people who might not be able to afford to park and issues about access and those kinds of things,” he said. “Some of those issues came up in previous planning, so folks who were involved in the Parking Committee...knew about those kinds of issues.”

Katelyn Blanchard, a recent UNC graduate who would have had to buy a visitor’s night parking permit to visit campus, said she is excited to see the parking program delayed.

“It’s a privilege to park, and I understand that,” she said.

“But it should be free to park at night... It’s kind of taking advantage of student fees, which are already high.”

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