Whether transit or car, changes are coming to students’ transportation options

As an urban campus, reasonable transportation to class will always be an issue caught in downtown Tacoma’s struggle to balance students’ needs with businesses nearby. Recently, changes to public transportation, as well as parking near campus, have been made in attempts to save money and increase consumer numbers in the area.

Paid parking near campus reduced its time from two hours to ninety minutes. While this hinders students, who typically attend two hour classes, it is said to improve the access to local businesses. With paid parking in effect since 2010, the City of Tacoma is managing the need for consumer access with the slogan, “Three years on the dot, we’re still saving you a parking spot.”

Also, paid parking is extended to 8pm instead of the current 6pm, and on Saturdays, the all-day rate of $1.50 has been replaced with an hourly 75 cents. The changes will be in effect on Jefferson and Pacific Avenue, as well as some streets between South 17th and 21st Streets.

According to the city’s website, the changes are being made because “downtown’s popularity” has “exceeded expectations” and that the goal of paid parking “was, and still is, designed to encourage those staying longer to use alternative transportation or off-street parking options.”

These changes, along with the proposed fee for the Tacoma Link, may negatively impact the community around campus.

The Tacoma Link has been run free of charge through Sound Transit since 2003 with the strategy that collecting a fare would cost more than allowing free service. However, similarly to downtown Tacoma’s “exceeded expectations” of visitors, the Link offers now an annual one million rides, and free service no longer fits the strategy. Sound Transit is currently asking for public comment and ideas to minimize the impact that a fee would have on the Link’s riders, which would begin in sometime in 2014.