The USF shuttle service emerged originally as a project to eliminate traffic congestion. During a time in which Parking and Transportation Services is planning construction for a $12-million parking structure, its shuttle services have expanded as well as its expenses.
While Parking and Transportation Services is still in debt for its first parking structure — the Crescent Hill Parking Garage — Director Greg Sylvester said the entity is financially stable to make payments on a 20-year bond for the new structure. Sylvester said sales will allow the service to fund project costs “as long as (revenues) hit the bottom line number.”
“We need to be able to get what revenues we need,” Sylvester said.
More than $2 million was spent on the addition of new service vehicles and employees in an effort to meet ridership demands, according to the Parking and Transportation Services budget.
While the transportation access fee was implemented to ease the costs of parking services, the amount generated from the fee will not sustain the shuttle expenses.
Less than $500,000 was collected from the $2-per-credit-hour fee, according to the budget.
A majority of revenue collected from the fee, Sylvester said, is used toward transportation-related expenses rather than the parking structures.
“If the transportation fee was shown to fund parking, we may be susceptible to pay a tax,” Sylvester said. “Why would I want to give the state of Florida $200,000 a year when I don’t have to?”
Because Parking and Transportation Services doesn’t receive money from the state or the university, the main source of revenue is acquired from sales.
This year, about $3.6 million was collected from parking permits according to the budget, and last year $5.9 million was generated from all sales and services.
As for the amount of revenue that will be designated from sales to pay for the new parking garage, Sylvester answered simply: “enough to pay for it.”
“All that money is pledged to pay for bonds,” Sylvester said.
But payments on a bond issued in 1994 for the Crescent Hill Parking Garage will be at least $415,000 a year for the next 14 years, according to the budget.
The new garage, which will be located behind the Library, is proposed to open by April 2004, and a third garage is proposed to be built near the Health Sciences Center and Fine Arts Building.
Parking and Transportation Services at the University of Central Florida is in the first stages of establishing its fifth parking garage. The UCF Parking and Transportation Services’ manager John Clark said the first four parking structures were established within six years.
Funding for UCF’s garages also come from Parking and Transportation Services revenue, Clark said.
From 1995-98, Clark said parking decals increased each year by 15 percent.
But this year the price of parking decals for commuting students decreased to $60, which is $45 less than USF’s student commuter decals.
Clark said when a $3.90-per-credit-hour transportation access fee was implemented he was able to decrease parking permits by 50 percent and still maintain expenses.
Although USF was established before UCF, Clark said the reason USF does not have the same amount of structures is based on the budget.
“It probably has to do with funding,” Clark said.
Sylvester didn’t become director until 2000 after the first parking structure was already established and while the shuttle service was still fairly new.
Sylvester said parking decals could cost $125 for students by the year 2007 to help fund the second parking garage.
Sylvester added that he has considered other options to generate revenue, such as advertising and leasing property.
However, the money accumulated is not as consistent.
Leasing parking lots to special events, Sylvester said, has been done, but to rent the lot out to a weekly event such as a car show might not be realistic.
“The demand might not be consistent enough to have a regular flow,” Sylvester said.
When planning for the new parking garage, Sylvester said he considered establishing retail space within the building to retain more funds.
“In Ybor City you can put a bar in there, and that will make money,” Sylvester said.
But on campus, Sylvester said, even businesses such as food establishments would not earn a large enough profit.
Sylvester said he reduces shuttle services on Fridays and during holiday breaks to save costs, but not during the week. Sylvester said the shuttle usage rate has increased by 80 percent since last year and mid-week operations would be difficult to reduce.
“Right now, during the academic year, it’s in demand,” Sylvester said.