Meters lost but needed

NIU’s Campus Parking Services Committee has yet again written another chapter in its legacy of cutting parking opportunities across campus with little effort to find alternatives.

The committee recently removed 156 metered spots in an effort to ease congestion in the area and improve the parking experience for true commuter students and visitors.

The apparent reason for this elimination was because the committee foresaw a greater profit to be made from changing the metered spots to permit.

As reported in an Aug. 26 Northern Star article, permit revenue for the fiscal year ending in June 2005 was $1,101,279, while revenue for metered spots was down overall to just $100,393. This equated to $66,269 less in meter revenue than the previous year alone.

Now, only 128 metered spots remain on the entire campus, making it more difficult for visitors and students to find a spot when it is truly needed. At the same time, numbers of blue permit spots for faculty and reserved – which carry the highest cost of all colored permits – are on the rise, while yellow spots for commuters also have been eliminated.

The committee’s actions would not be unfounded, except it has not made any clear strides to develop new parking opportunities on campus in recent memory.

For example, some parking lots that do exist for students are in need of repair, most notably Lot X near Grant Towers, which is entirely made of gravel.

Although the campus possesses one of the largest student-run busing systems in the state, overcrowding on buses during peak periods make them less appealing to students looking to get to class in a timely fashion. With off-campus housing expanding in recent years, some bus routes are unable to accommodate the increase in stops, almost necessitating driving to class.

The university already is seeing increased enrollment and a large freshmen class this year, making it clear more students are on their way to DeKalb in the future, most likely bringing cars with them. With the location of numerous attractions nearby, including Chicago, cars seem to be a staple for many students, regardless of how many times ‘stay on campus” advice is given.

The school itself also is adding to the problem. With the opening of the Convocation Center in 2002, DeKalb was put on the map as an entertainment destination, bringing revenue, but more importantly, people – with cars.

At a time when open roads are being eliminated to make way for unused grass, as with the DuSable Hall bus turnaround, perhaps the Parking Services Committee should consider the future expansion of the university and explore other parking options.

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