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Monday, May 17, 2021

Frontline: paying for potholes

Returning to Western in fall is always bittersweet. Campus is gorgeous and students get to see all of their friends who left over the summer. However, the returning Vikings lose the free time they had, return to the grind of everyday class work and worst of all — parking.

Some of us are lucky enough to live within walking distance of school, but in reality Western students are spread throughout Whatcom County, some even commuting from Skagit County or Snohomish County. Leaving over an hour before your class starts can take a toll on your morning, with the cherry on top of arriving to campus to park in the depths of the C Lots and being late to class. 

For years, Western students have begged for the C Lots to be repaved. This dream became a reality last June, but left the most populated lot remaining in it’s usual gravel state. This is mostly a problem for students who park there on a daily basis; after all, no one enjoys the dips and dings of potholes and gravel. For many students, their most expensive and prized possession is their car, only to be ruined by the rough gravel lots. 

“Not only is public transportation an answer to your parking woes, but a step in the right direction for your carbon footprint. “

Western Front Editorial Board

However, the number of students who park on campus every day is limited, mostly due to the expense of parking passes. The C Lots, meaning “commuter lots,” are where most students park because they are the largest on campus and typically the closest to popular places on campus, like the Wade King Student Recreation Center or Academic West.

For a Western student to park in the C Lots for one quarter, it costs $83. For an academic year, in other words fall, winter and spring, it costs $250. If you wanted to include summer, your cost moves up to $319. Other lots available for purchase on the website are cheaper by $20 to $30 per quarter but are reserved for staff and faculty.

This isn’t an outrageous notion, but if you have class on North campus and your only option for parking is the C Lots on South campus, you must plan ahead for that 15-minute walk if you’d like to be on time. Or even worse, the unrealistic expectation that you can park at Lincoln Creek, adding at least a half hour if you don’t catch the first bus after you park. Even for a quarterly pass at Lincoln Creek, located just blocks away from Fred Meyer on Lincoln, it costs $25.

For many, those prices for mediocre parking in an unpaved lot far away from their classrooms isn’t worth it or may not be affordable at all. If one is putting themselves through school as well as paying to live off campus, it’s hard to shell out another $250 just to get to class on time. 

Beyond the issue of cost, some professors aren’t as sympathetic to being late as others, understandably so. However, it’s frustrating for students who would otherwise be on time if they didn’t have to park at Lincoln Creek and wait for the bus if the C Lot was full. 

Western parking oversells parking passes by about a thousand passes each year. Students, if you walk to school, don’t buy a parking pass, leaving more for those who have a commute. A simple solution to the parking problem is right in front of our eyes. The bus system in Bellingham is reliable and the Blue Line runs right through campus. Not only is public transportation an answer to your parking woes, but a step in the right direction for your carbon footprint. 

No matter which path students quite literally choose to travel, Western needs to finish paving the sometimes undrivable C Lots, stop selling more passes than there are spots in the commuter lots and encourage students to take the busses, achieving the green reputation we always strive to represent as a campus.


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