WMU News

WMU reshaping parking system to reduce traffic, parking congestion

June 26, 1998

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University is reshaping its parking system with changes in the parking fine schedule and vehicle registration rates for 1998-99, partly as a result of the successful implementation in January of a free campuswide bus system that will continue this fall.

Among the changes are rates and rules that will encourage students to park in lots more distant from the center of campus to relieve parking and traffic congestion, an increasing problem at the University, said Robert M. Beam, vice president for business and finance. And it will pay them to do so.

"Students who choose to park in lots near Lawson Arena and use the bus system will pay about what students paid last year to register their vehicles," Beam said. Lawson Arena is located near the west edge of the campus.

The WMU Board of Trustees approved the changes in rates and fines at its meeting June 26.

Effective with the start of the fall semester, full-time students will pay $150 to register their vehicle for fall and winter semesters, an increase of $50 from the current rate. The cost for a full-time student to park in Lawson Arena lots will be $60, the same as last year's rate for part-time students.

This is the first time since 1994 that vehicle registration rates have been changed.

"Our intent is to spread the demand for available parking away from our most heavily used parking lots by offering a lower price option in the Lawson Arena parking lots," Beam continued. "These lots typically have experienced minimal demand by commuter students and, therefore, have substantial space that we hope to use to accommodate increased demand."

Beam said parking regulations also will be changed from those in past years. Currently, students can "commute" from their residence hall parking lot to a lot closer to academic facilities.

"Students will be more or less anchored in their parking options and expected to use the bus system to move around campus," he said. "We hope that these changes will ease the traffic congestion that occurs at class change times on the West Campus."

Beam also pointed to increased costs for operation, maintenance and construction of parking facilities, including the prospect of a third parking structure that would be located near Haenicke Hall. Additional remote lots also would be needed as demand for more distant parking increases.

"We regard the bus system as a success," Beam said. He noted that a total of 130,667 riders used the Brown and Gold campus routes between the start of service on Jan. 5 and the end of the winter semester April 24. Usage went from 500 riders the first day to 37,500 in the first three weeks alone. The total jumps to 169,000 riders if city routes that go through the campus are included.

"The campus system averaged nearly 28 riders per hour, which is higher than the Kalamazoo Metro Transit system as a whole," Beam said. Metro Transit averaged 21.5 riders per hour. WMU and Metro Transit agreed last winter to operate campus bus routes in addition to city routes that also travel on campus for one semester as a test.

"This has been a good example of cooperation between WMU and the city of Kalamazoo," Beam said. "I'm very encouraged with the way the numbers have gone during our initial test." He also credited the Western Student Association for its role in establishing a campus bus system at WMU.

Here are 1998-99 vehicle registration rates with last year's rates in parentheses: full-time fall and winter, $150 ($100); part-time fall and winter, $90 ($60); full-time winter, spring and summer, $90 ($60); part-time winter, spring and summer, $54 ($36); all users spring and summer, $54 ($36).

The rates for two-wheeled vehicles are half those for automobiles. The rates for Lawson area parking are: full-time fall and winter, $60; part-time fall and winter, $36; full-time winter, spring and summer, $36; part-time winter, spring and summer, $22; all users spring and summer, $22.

For the first time in almost 10 years, costs also will go up for students who receive parking tickets, The increases bring WMU's rates to levels comparable to those at other public universities. The additional revenue will be used to support ongoing maintenance of the parking system and future construction.

"As a result of our current low rates, users are willing to 'take a chance' and pay the relatively minimal violation fine, which results in the misuse of our parking system," Beam said. "We believe these changes will curtail misuse and alleviate some of the parking and traffic congestion on our lots and streets."

The fine for an expired parking meter, the most common violation, will go up to $5 from $1 when paid in the first hour, to $10 from $3 if paid within 14 days and to $15 from $9 if paid after 14 days. The current parking meter rate will be raised to $1 per hour from 50 cents per hour.

Most other fines are currently $8, which will increase to $15. The fine for tickets not paid in 14 days increases by $1 to $25 in most instances. The fine for parking in a handicap space remains $50 if paid within 14 days but jumps to $100 from $50 if paid after 14 days. No other fine exceeds $25.

Media contact: Mike Matthews, 616 387-8400, michael.matthews@wmich.edu


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