Rutgers seems to struggle with providing students access to safe, accessible and easy parking options. Not only do fees vary based on campus and location, but some lots are closer to campus hubs than others. That makes it exceedingly difficult for students to plan properly and to have direct access to campus and campus life. Rutgers parking has been problematic for too long, and that should change.
It is worth noting that more than 17,600 undergraduates commute to campus — more than a resounding 56 percent of the University’s undergraduate population. With such a large number of students commuting to campus, Rutgers should have a state-of-the-art, easily accessible, smart parking program.
Instead, we get a plethora of issues that leave one wondering why we spend so much money on regular tuition and campus fees in addition to an exorbitant amount of money on parking passes. Parking passes, for example, are at least $90 per semester, and that rate goes up depending on what campus you are on and which lots are outlined within the pass upon purchase. It is definitely not pocket change.
This is troubling, given the fact that students are assigned a single lot to park in, on a single campus. For a school like Rutgers — where it is probable that students have classes on multiple campuses in one day — only allowing parking on one campus for students is poor planning and does not take student needs into consideration.
Of course, there are the buses, but those buses only further exacerbate the problem. Buses are inconsistent in their schedules as they do not stop at all locations and are pretty slow.
A commuter, for example, would have to drive to campus, wait on a bus — hope it shows up and leaves quickly — and then get to the campus of their class. It is a multistep process that just adds headaches to students’ lives. If they were to miss the bus, they'd have to wait another 20 to 30 minutes until the next one comes — further delaying their schedule when they're already scrambling to get to class.
As a result, many students decide to take an Uber or a Lyft between campuses, which is only an added cost to them and worsens traffic congestion on campus.
These problems culminate to make clear that Rutgers has an awful transportation system that is in serious need of reform. Rutgers should reevaluate its policies that only give students access to parking on one campus, and they should further look into making the buses more reliable and accessible.
That could include just adding more buses to the fleet, looking into creating new bus routes and providing more alternative transportation methods. These methods would make transportation easier and ease the lives of students, especially commuters.
Rutgers should also strategically assign people parking based on where they live. Even if that is not possible, they should ensure that students park on campuses that are nearest to their home campus.
Yet, astoundingly, it is not even just these inconveniences that plague Rutgers parking. Rutgers parking has a web of problems that extend beyond simple issues to quite major ones, which students worry about.
Rutgers cannot ensure the safety and security of the vehicles that we park in University lots. If we pay so much money, there should be some guarantee that our cars will be safe from theft or from tampering. Two prominent examples of these problems come to mind.
First, and most recently, three cars were recently stolen from a University parking lot on the Livingston campus. The cars were in a University lot, spots the students paid for, and still, there was no protection against the thefts.
Another example from last semester is the string of catalytic converter thefts throughout University parking lots. While the cars themselves were not stolen, catalytic converters are important to regulating the emissions a car emits, which greatly impacts the environment.
Rutgers really needs to account for these issues on all fronts — the University must do better. These issues intersect and can only be addressed through improving the parking situation, the buses and the security of vehicles on campus, among other solutions.
Though so much of this change must come from the University itself, students are not helpless. We are mindful of Rutgers' transportation troubles, and so, we should plan accordingly.
As always, we can continue making our voices and our concerns heard by the University by reaching out to University officials whether through town halls, petitions or any other format: We as students deserve to have secure and easy parking options, just as we deserve an easy and accessible transportation system. We need to make our needs heard until the University makes changes.
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