New options for parking coming for Fall

Graphic by Seth Walker

Starting in the fall of 2012, Bellevue College will be offering discount parking in Lots 1, 3 and 5 (near 148 Ave.). Since Sept. of 2011, students have been charged $65 for everyday parking permits. Students who purchase the discount parking permits that only allow parking in Lots 1, 3 and 5 will only pay $50.

“Discount daily parking opens up spaces closer to the buildings by drawing out some people to the farther lots,” said Deric Gruen, Sustainability Coordinator and Resource Conservation Manager. Gruen and the Public Safety department are working together to address the issue of transportation for students.

Parking permits have always been required at Bellevue College, but it was only last year that the decision was made to charge for the permits. In the fall of 2010, a parking study was done to assess crowded parking lots. A task force composing of students, faculty and staff was created to take a closer look at BC’s transportation systems.

“The crisis was that the cost of the bus system was too expensive. Another issue is climate commitment, CO2 emissions,” said Gruen. “Seventy-five percent of our carbon emission at BC is student driving.”

Bellevue College works with the ORCA to provide students a discount for bus passes. However, the price needed to maintain that program was too high.  The task force came up with the idea of charging for parking, and then this idea was brought to the Associated Student Government (ASG), who considered factors such as other methods of transportation and the availability of parking.

Parking permits were considered a solution to the crowded parking lots. The Bellevue College Board of Trustees approved parking fees on June 29 of last year.

“The money goes to striping [the parking lots], enforcing parking permits, signage. It also helps support the bus pass program,” said Gruen.

Another reason for the original task force and the parking decision came from the plan to construct a new building in the next few years. This new building would be where Lots 4 and 6 are now and would be used for health sciences.

The task force looked at parking capacity with a new building in mind and realized that parking would be too crowded. It is also difficult because there are only a few exit roads from Bellevue College, making exiting and entering the college complicated.

In a study done by the ASG, congestion was one of the top concerns of students. Since charging for parking permits, 10 percent fewer students say it is difficult to park at Bellevue College.

“The important thing is that it’s fair, because you pay for what you’re using,” said Gruen. “There’s also more diverse transportation, like the bus program.”

Discount parking permits will be available for students in the fall of 2012.