As students battle daily for parking spaces on campus or cringe at paying fines, they may wonder where the money to pay for their decals went.
Though decals purchased from student, faculty and/or staff remain the bulk of USF Parking and Transportation Services (PATS) income, new machines have provided an extra source of funds.
Frank Granda, operations manager for PATS, said the University issued a mandate two years ago to limit the amount of cash collection sites on campus and have one centralized center in the administration building.
To comply with the mandate, USF added 21 new machines in July that only accept credit cards, Granda said.
The 21 Pay-by-Space machines have contributed to nearly $300,000 in extra revenue.
Each visitor parking space has a designated number. Drivers enter their space number into a central machine and pay with a credit card – $1.50 for one hour, $3 for two and $6 for four.
Pay-and-Display machines, which are credit-card-only permit machines installed in July, have produced about $150,000, Granda said.
These machines allow visitors to pay $5 for 24-hour parking.
So far, PATS has made more than $7 million this academic year from parking decals alone – more than $3 million from staff and faculty and about $4 million from students, Granda said.
An annual non-resident student decal for the 2009-10 school year costs $161, while an annual “Green Staff” decal costs $238 and a “Gold Staff” decal costs $397, according to the 2009-10 Guide to Parking.
All money collected by PATS “covers the costs of operating the department, which includes maintenance and debt services of lots and garages, the fare-free shuttle system, visitors information center and a complementary motorist assistance program,” according to PAT’s Web site.
In the 2008-09 academic year, PATS received slightly more than $1 million in parking citations, Granda said. In the last three years, PATS has issued an average of 34,000 citations each year, said Director of PATS Manuel Lopez.
Lauren Wyatt, a sophomore majoring in biomedical sciences, said the number was not surprising.
“I believe the numbers,” she said. “Half the time, the kids can’t find a parking spot because it’s packed. So they’re bound to get tickets.”
Students who receive parking violations have the opportunity to appeal them. According to PAT’s Web site, an appeal must be made within two weeks of when a citation is issued.
If the student disagrees with the appeal decision, a final appeal may be made to Student Government’s Supreme Court.
Conrad Kieliszek, a freshman majoring in biomedical sciences, said citation fines are too high.
“I’ve gotten two citations before. I don’t agree with the costs and appeal process,” he said. “For college students who are short on money already, a $200 ticket is tough. They should lower the amount.”
However, Kieliszek also said the high costs could be justified.
“If the claims are true that the money made is used to maintain parking facilities and maintain garages and such, then that sounds reasonable, he said.”