Attending an urban campus in the heart of Tacoma has benefits- but parking isn’t one of them. Fall quarter is now in full swing and students who drive will have to
face the fact that finding a cheap and nearby place to park is not the easiest thing to do. Changes to parking regulation will also affect the UWT driving community this year, so students need to know what options there are.
While Campus Safety can’t create more parking, they’ve implemented changes for the 2012-13 school year to create a “more efficient use of resources” so as to serve the most amount of students. Parking regulation has been handed over to Diamond Parking Enforcement, meaning that that company will have responsibility of giving out citations and managing the Cragle and Pinkerton lots. With the funding from parking revenue, it will be at no cost to students. Susan Wagshul-Golden, Director of Campus Safety & Security, says that the transition will allow for Campus Safety to “focus on patrols instead, leaving us more accessible to students.” The change also involves the “Diamond We Care Program,” which will provide vehicle assistance free of charge.
Ben Mauk, business manager in the Finance department, spoke of the reasons for this change, how it will improve parking availability and decrease the chances to park incorrectly or illegally. “We had a significant problem in the Cragle parking lot, with people not paying… It’s been a real sore spot.” The maximum time allowed is decreasing from five hours to three, and Mauk is confident it will better serve the campus’ “broader parking system in terms of our capabilities.” He suggests the Court 17 and WT31 lots for longer stays.
Equipped with computerized citation machines, D. P.E. outdoes the campus’ “paper and pencil parking enforcement method.” 144 citations were issued from August 14th to September 13th of 2012, compared to 27 during the same period in 2011. Kelly Fields, a sophomore, pays to park in lots on and around campus without a UWT permit. “I pay from $3 – $7 a day, depending on which lots are full.” Fields supports the idea of a stricter system, with some reservations. “More patrols sound like a good thing in theory, but I really hope there isn’t so much attention [on the parking lots] that I’d get ticketed for getting to my car one or two minutes late.” More changes are in store this year. On the success of last spring quarter, UWT is continuing its partnership with the Convention Center and the Glass Museum, where a permit would allow a student to park up to 26 times a quarter in their garages. 55 new permits are also being sold for the Vision Deuce lot near Fawcett Ave. and Court D. This lot will host free overflow parking for the first two weeks of fall quarter. According to Mauk, this will “increase the overall UWT permit parking supply by over 25% at no cost to the University and at significant discounts to students.”
Not everyone wants to pay for a UWT parking permit, which ranges from $45 – $150. Fortunately, there are options for drivers, if they know where to look.
David Bell, an employee on campus, advises drivers to utilize the free street parking on and above19th St. and Fawcett Ave. “It’s not metered yet. ‘Yet’ being the big word there.” Other than that, he suggests parking in the Freighthouse Square garage and taking the Link Transit to campus. “The garage is free but during school it usually fills up before 11 a.m. I would say unless you absolutely have to, don’t take a car.” Free parking is also available in the Tacoma Dome Transit Station garage.
Stormy Ross is a student who uses the U-Pass to take the bus to and from campus, saying, “Since it’s a commuter school, there’s busses everywhere and UWT is really at the hub of places.” Ross thinks that driving is a hassle not worth the effort. “It’s easier to use the bus in comparison. Everything’s right here.” The U-Pass costs $45 a quarter for students, and can be used on Community, Pierce, Metro, Kitsap, Everett and Sound Transit buses. It can also be used on the Sounder train. A UPass can be bought online through the campus website. With such limited parking, UWT goers need to analyze their commuting options carefully to decide what’s best for them.