Despite revenues from citations and other sources, USF Parking and Transportation Services (PATS) has failed to significantly improve the difficult parking situation at USF.
PATS justifies its fundraising efforts by using the fact that it does not receive state funding, so it must collect its own revenue, according to its Web site.
However, PATS spends 38 percent of its revenue on paying employees, many of whom are driving carts around campus and handing out citations. Parking citations generated $1 million in revenue in the 2008-09 academic year, Frank Granda, operations manager for PATS, said in an article in The Oracle on March 22.
Payroll is its largest expense, and for comparison, only about 22 percent of PATS’ income is spent on expenses directly associated with student parking services.
These figures make it seem like PATS is more concerned about collecting funds than serving students. Students should avoid dealing with PATS by reducing parking permit purchase and use.
According to PATS, 56 percent of its income is generated from permit sales. Since PATS made about $4 million from student permit sales this academic year, Granda said, it would be impacted by as little as a 1 percent sales decrease.
Some claim that PATS must aggressively fundraise to maintain parking garages and parking lots. Parking garage operation involves lighting, cleaning and elevator service. These costs are not much different than those of running any other building.
When the subpar conditions of some USF parking lots and garages are also considered, it seems that claims of high maintenance costs are exaggerated. PATS’ survival is not at risk, and buying permits is not a necessary evil.
Students should consider carpooling. Those who are unable to find a carpooling group can find ride-sharing matches on sites like carpoolconnect.com. It would be a good idea for PATS to provide its own matching service for students.
Students could also find parking off campus or take a Bull Runner bus.
These measures would not only solve many students’ parking problems but would also help marginalize PATS.
The decrease in parking permits would lead to a decrease in parking spaces occupied, which would alleviate campus congestion. In 2009, there were about 21,000 parking spaces for USF students, staff and faculty, but these seemed insufficient.
Fewer students parking on campus means a decrease in potential citations, which would decrease the demand for Parking Enforcement Specialists.
Since it cannot stop maintaining garages or paying back debt for these facilities, PATS will have to respond to revenue decreases by cutting its expenses.
It could downsize its payroll and focus more money on students by directly addressing the traffic and parking problems at USF.
When dealing with poor parking, students must be proactive. The best way students can express their disgust is to sidestep the department and find other means of transportation.
Neil Manimala is a junior majoring in biomedical sciences.