Around VCU’s Monroe Park Campus, cars are plentiful, spots are sometimes scarce and restrictions for on-street parking can be troublesome.
At the beginning of this semester, the City of Richmond installed new parking meters in a previously two hour free parking area around the T. Edward Temple Building.
The meters are frustrating to commuters like Jessica Tyler. The meters are a new generation which includes a central digital kiosk where drivers will insert cash, change or a credit or debit card and receive a printed receipt to display on their dashboard.
“They are an inconvenience and they barely work, I don’t think they should be here,” she said.
According to Steven Bergin of the Richmond Department of Public Works, VCU Parking and Transportation made the original request for hourly parking signs with hopes of balancing the parking availability between street parking and VCU lot and deck parking. The signs had seemingly no effect, and so the meters were installed to further encourage parkers to move into VCU parking spaces and clear up the congestion on the streets.
“The city did a study of the parking, and determined that public parking was at 100 percent and VCU off-street parking was below 50 percent occupancy all around campus. We decided that paid parking was necessary around the campus to even out the parking rates,” he said in an email.
Bergin also stated that the decision to add the meters was made last summer. VCU Parking and Transportation officials declined to comment.
Several students are also frustrated with the meter’s functionality.
“I got stuck trying to pay and was 10 minutes late for class, it was really inconvenient. These machines are a pain,” said Kat Lawler, a frequent commuter.
Nicole Jackson, another commuter, also had trouble with the meters.
“They don’t take my money half of the time. I’ve had a really hard time getting them to take change,” she said. “That doesn’t make sense because a lot of people are probably used to paying with spare change at the older meters.”
In addition to reducing the congestion of street parking, Richmond is looking to promote lot and deck parking use with the meters.
A VCU parking pass starts at $175.00 per semester for commuter parking, which offers daily parking Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. until 2 a.m. Some passes are as expensive as $310.00 per six month term for residential and overnight parking.
“The idea behind paid parking is to help move people into long-term parking facilities, and to keep people from driving short lengths to do business around campus,” Bergin said.
Lawler said the new meters are not enough to make her buy a parking pass. “The money I put in meters would be less than for a parking pass, so I’m going to stay on the street,” she said.
Jackson also said she was not planning on switching to a parking pass.
“A pass is pointless. If I’m only taking a few classes, why would I pay to park my car all day when I’m not here that long?” Jackson said.
She also she that she was upset by the lack of notice prior to the new meters being installed.
“It isn’t fair, there was no notification so I couldn’t prepare myself. It is hard enough to find a place to park and now I can’t even park without paying,” she said.