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OPINION: Preparing for the Future of Lincoln Creek

The Lincoln Creek Park and Ride doesn’t look any different than previous years, except for a few white signs that say, “Permit Required Fall Quarter.” It’s a change Parking Services announced in its master plan last spring, but now the first step has been made and opinions about the new permits and the future of the lot are beginning to form. The most explosive of which has been outrage that this time next year, permits to park in the lot will come with a fee. For returning students who may have gotten used to using the lot for free, this is especially frustrating. Implementing paid permits means students who can’t afford a parking pass are losing an option. While there might be some spots along neighborhood streets, these can be rare and may not be on a direct bus line to campus. For students needing to get to campus in a hurry, this can pose a stressful problem. Permits for C lots on campus cost $82 per quarter, or  $313 for an annual pass. That’s a big chunk of change to add on to all the other college expenses. In-state students attending Western are estimated to spend an average of $23,236 during the 2015-2016 school year. For out-of-state students, that price grows to $35,588. Plus, when it comes to lots on campus, there’s not a guarantee you’ll be able to find a space quickly (or even at all sometimes). Considering Parking Services sells out of passes for C lots pretty much every year, you can bet it will always be packed. Also, there are unfortunately some spots that get squeezed when other cars park too close, making it impossible for larger vehicles to fit. It’s not hard to see why Lincoln Creek has been so appealing for so many students. The issue of payment is not immediate, unless you don’t get the permit and still park at Lincoln Creek, which could land you with a $30 ticket. However, this time next year will be a different story. But the fact there’s still a whole year before the change goes into effect means students have time to plan ahead — an opportunity that doesn’t always come when changes are made on campus. If you know you still want to park there, start putting aside a little extra money each month so you can save up for a pass. If you want a campus pass instead, make sure you mark when they go on sale so you can be sure to get one. If you don’t want to pay for a pass, start researching alternative routes of transportation and find one that works for you. Or look into carpooling with friends who have parking passes. Although fees can be difficult to handle, they do serve a purpose. In order to have a functional, comfortable campus there needs to be maintenance, and maintenance isn’t free. Pot holes need to be filled, storm drains need to be unclogged and wouldn’t it be great if all the lots could be paved? It’s easy to forget that the fees we pay are actually put to use and not just maliciously sucking our savings dry. But it’s a thought to keep in mind while planning for next year.

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