CHAPEL HILL — As UNC moves to paid night parking later this summer, a policy change approved years ago is drawing concern.
Post-doc researchers, night nurses and surgeons, and graveyard-shift employees will pay fees starting at $227 a year to park in lots where they have been parking for free.
“Some faculty members have raised questions with the administration about the implications of the university’s night parking policy,” Provost James W. Dean said in a statement. “We will carefully evaluate their concerns and determine the next steps.”
Though the policy change was agreed upon three years ago, it is generating buzz as its August 15 effective date nears.
“As we’re approaching the date, some people are being surprised,” said Karen McCall, spokeswoman for the UNC School of Medicine and UNC Health Care.
Student Matthew Sparks said his girlfriend and her nursing co-workers vented over beers recently. “These third-shift nurses aren’t going to deal with this kind of thing,” he said.
Because he recently bought a student pass, Sparks estimated the couple would spend more than $600 on campus parking this summer.
Other night-shift employees include food service workers, custodial staff, and security officers.
Casey VanAlstyne, whose wife works at night, took advantage of the open gate at the Bell Tower parking deck Wednesday evening to drop something off for her. He said a night permit will cost them $250.
“She is going from not paying to paying,” he said. “It stinks.” The lot where his wife parks is usually less than full at night, he added.
Day workers use the lots at peak-demand hours and need a more expensive pass, but they can also buy cheaper park-and-ride passes and use buses that don’t run at night.
Those with day passes or park-and-ride permits don’t have to buy a night pass.
Part of the plan
Tom Thornburg, a member of the Advisory Committee on Transportation, said night parking fees were a component of the parking department’s five-year financing plan.
“A key part of that plan is understanding that there are a lot of moving pieces to support. . . that the system as a whole has a price tag associated with it,” said Thornburg, an associate dean at the School of Government.
Campus parking services were looking to close a projected budget gap of $6.1 million by 2015. Fare-free buses make up a large share of expenses, administrators said, but were deemed too important to lose. Financing two recent parking deck additions is another burden.
Student fees rose to help fund the fare-free buses. Daytime permits have also risen, and last year a fee was attached to campus park-and-ride lots.
Randy Young, a spokesman with the Department of Public Safety (which oversees parking) said the move increases equity by spreading the costs for parking among all users.
No additional staffing is needed, Young said, because campus safety already patrol the lots at night.
With prices tiered based on employee salary, a night parking permit will cost $229 for a person making less than $25,000, up to $390 for someone earning more than $100,000.
There are graduated weekly rates, and a nightly permit for $2.
Charles Streeter, chairman of the Employee Forum, said there has been a lot of communication about this over the years and the decision is no surprise at this point.
But researcher Joe Harrison said housekeepers will be hit hard.
“The buses don’t run at night where they live, and they can’t live close to the university because they’ve already been priced out,” he said.
Harrison, who makes regular late-night trips to the lab to check on time-sensitive experiments, said his lab may buy a few passes to share among its researchers.
Trustees voted in November to raise student fees $10.40 as an alternative to creating a night permits system for students. Students who pick up a night pass once they are available will not pay anything more.
Daytime student parking passes are assigned by lottery and range from $328.50 to $431.25 for on-campus parking.