On January 4, parking permits will become available for the spring semester. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Parking and Transportation Services has reduced and changed shuttle lines as well as rearranged some permit parking spaces in order to better match the reduced need for parking. They have not, however, reduced the price of the permits themselves.
“Parking at the University of Connecticut has always been a contentious issue.”
Parking at the University of Connecticut has always been a contentious issue. No one enjoys paying for parking, and the prices leave an especially bad taste in students’ mouths considering our rural location. On the other hand, the demand for parking is usually high, and many lots do fill up — at least, during a regular year. It is no small task to build another lot, even if this would be in the school’s best interest long-term.
This year, the residential campus population was greatly reduced. While the number of students living off-campus was higher as a result, many chose to live and take courses from home or elsewhere. Not only that, but the majority of courses this fall were fully online: According to data collected by The Daily Campus, 64% of fall classes were taught entirely through a computer screen. Especially with the incoming second wave already forcing UConn to end some in-person operations a week early with the entire campus under quarantine, it is unlikely this percentage will diminish much in the spring.
Even for students who do commute to campus for classes, the demand is likely much lower. Rather than go on-campus every day, many students have hybrid courses, or in-person courses only one or two days per week. For these students, the number of times they actually need to use their parking permit per semester is much, much lower than during a usual semester.
Overall, there is no question that demand for parking this semester has decreased due to COVID-19. There is no question this demand will stay small in the spring. But the prices of parking permits have not reflected this. They still remain prohibitively high for many students.
UConn has a great interest in making campus more lively and worthwhile to students. In order to get people to choose residential housing with restrictions, there needs to be some campus culture even in this post-coronavirus world. Before the recent surge in cases, for example, UConn was planning many on-campus events and giveaways in order to get people out and about in a safe manner. However, as long as coming to campus remains as expensive as it is, there simply won’t be as much interest to come, whether it be for these events or for on-campus classes.
In order to make campus accessible and worthwhile throughout the pandemic, it is the responsibility of the university to reduce parking prices to reflect this reduced demand.