Protest planned for Wednesday over UMass parking fees

Angered by a hike in parking fees, members of the UMass Boston community planned to picket outside the new West Garage on Wed., Feb. 6.

Last year, the university announced it would raise the parking rate at its on-campus garages and lots from $6 to $15. The price at the Bayside satellite lot went up as well, from $6 to $9.

The hike — the first in 15 years—will help pay for the new $69.75 million garage that opened last summer. According to the Coalition to Save UMB, who organized the protest, the fees unfairly target the campus’s lowest-paid employees as the university no longer offers reduced rate, multi-use passes.

“It’s unconscionable that a public university specifically reaching out to commuter students would significantly boost the cost of parking on campus and at a lot off site that is serviced by a shuttle bus,” said Anneta Argyres, president of the Professional Staff Union. “Students and staff should not have to shoulder the cost of a new garage because our old garage was not built properly.”

About a third of the university’s 16,500 students commute to campus.

A statement released on Wednesday from UMass Boston’s Vice Chancellor for Administration & Finance Kathleen Kirleis explained that the new rate structure was "required to cover the costs associated with all of our parking facilities, whose rates have remained unchanged since 2004."

"The alternative was to continue subsidizing parking fees with tuition funds diverted from programs, faculty hiring, student financial aid and other priority areas. We have worked to mitigate the impact of the new rates by offering substantial discounts to those members of our community who park frequently or are at the low end of the pay scale."

Kirleis said, "We will continue to subsidize the free shuttle service to and from Bayside and public transportation at a cost of more than $5 million annually. Public transportation is an essential aspect of access to the campus, used by thousands of students and employees on a daily basis.”

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