Commuter students raise concern over price and accessibility, call for administrative action

Written By Caitlyn Scott, Co-News Editor

Students have long voiced difficulties of commuting to campus, with many calling upon the administration to provide university-developed parking spaces and discounted rates for city parking.

“I strongly believe that Point Park should try to develop their own student parking lot and provide students with discounted parking rates since there are so many commuting drivers and we are all on a student budget,” junior multimedia major Tran Le said.

According to Point Park’s official website, currently, the university only offers visitors and commuter students with a list of parking options that are in close proximity to the university, with options including the Third Avenue [Parking] Garage, the Wood-Allies Garage, and the Mon Wharf parking area. Students can also go to the Office of Student Life for a discounted monthly lease to park the Station Square West Lot.

The university has stated that “commercial surface lots and garages” located within Downtown and Station Square are available to students, although students may need to additionally use the Port Authority Light Rail or bus system from the parking facility to finish their commute.

“From many conversations with my commuting friends at Point Park, one of the many issues why they do not drive to campus and live there is because of the horrible parking situation as well as the prices,” Le said.

According to, Downtown Pittsburgh’s rates for parking were among the “most expensive in the country,” averaging a ranking of 16 out of the nation’s 40 largest cities in 2018.

The initial index, which covered over “650 parking facilities” within the city, showcased that the median hourly rate for parking averaged $7, with the median rate for daily parking being roughly $18, making the city the “fourteenth most expensive city for daily parking.”

The monthly median rate ranked ninth on the list with a rate of $235.

It also noted that with the annual inflation rate within the United States increasing in January 2022 to 7.5%, according to Trading Economics, parking rates within the city are likely to increase.

Senior journalism major Victoria Sadauskas says that she would rather opt for garage parking in contrast to street parking, due to garage parking being cheaper.

“I pay $14 every time I park at the Wood-Allies Garage, so roughly $28 a week I spend on parking,” Sadauskas said.

“I feel that it makes so much more sense for me to park in a garage that has a flat rate per hour(s) as opposed to parking on the street where the $4 an hour will be more expensive with how long I stay on campus for classes,” Sadauskas added. “The $14 each time does add up, but it’s a much better decision in the long run.”

The university also provides students with options for street parking, although alerting students who utilize street parking that unpaid meters may lead to an issuing of a county-issued ticket.

It is noted that parking time along the Boulevard of the Allies is limited and that parking after hours can result in a ticket or the towing of a vehicle.

Despite these options for city parking, students have said they believe that there has been no additional help from the university in regards to the availability and payment for parking within the city.

“In my own experience, the university has not been helpful with providing options for parking near campus,” Sadauskas said. “I spent a lot of my own time basically experimenting with different parking garages, street parking and independently-owned lots to see what the best and cheapest way to park would be.”

Along with Sadauskas, Le also notes that the university has left commuters with figuring out their own ways to waive the costs of parking and finding available spaces that are convenient to students.

“Throughout my three years commuting at Point Park, I have done surveys and satisfactory questionnaires about the parking situation, and nothing has been resolved [regarding parking],” Le said. “The most ‘help’ I have ever gotten was an option to park in Station Square where a ‘student discount’ would be provided. I think that parking there is inconvenient as it is far from campus, where students have to walk across a bridge and a parkway to get to campus.”

Le added that the walking commute from Station Square could cause its own set of problems.

“This neglects the accessibility of students as they could be handicapped, not being able to walk that far and not considering the winter season. Even with the ‘student discount,’ it is still expensive, therefore many students decide to park near campus anyway and pay a couple of more dollars,” Le said.

This is not the first time students have voiced concern over the availability and affordability of parking near campus.

Senior political science and legal studies major Sophie Burkholder said that during her time as Chief of Staff of the Student Government Association (SGA), there have been many concerns regarding student parking, along with past negotiations with the administration.

“Issues like this are brought up year after year with no solution,” Burkholder said. “SGA, as an organization, must begin actively going against the administration to get true solutions for the students. While that may sound like an aggressive remark, the truth is nothing happens when SGA just takes no or certain reasons such as money as an excuse for why something like parking, a necessity for a majority of PPU students, goes unsolved.”

As of Fall 2021, commuter students make up a bigger population of students in comparison to residential students.

“In the most recent numbers available, Fall 2021, the approximate number of commuters to residents is 60% commuters, 40% residents,” Vice President of Student Affairs Dean Paylo said.

Despite a large majority of students commuting to campus, Burkholder said that if the university were able to provide discounts for students, they would likely increase tuition costs to be able to pay for additional resources like discounts, leading to issues for students who do not rely on student parking to come to campus.

“The argument SGA tries to make is that if students want it and know that they are paying for it, they may not mind the added expense. The issue is, tuition increases and sometimes there is little transparency as to why, but if they are aware it is for parking it may be better perceived,” Burkholder said. “Those who would not utilize parking, however, may have more of an issue with an increase because it does not directly benefit them.

Since the beginning of the Fall 2021 school year, SGA has also spoken with administrators regarding the implementation of the U-Pass system.

“Students typically ask for bus passes or free parking, and two senators, Tanya Batista and Marc Palombo, have investigated the bus pass issue,” Burkholder said.

As previously reported by The Globe in October 2021 , the full U-Pass system, which would grant “no cost” fares upon Port Authority buses and light rail services, lists the University of Pittsburgh, Chatham University and Carnegie University as part of the full program.

Currently, Point Park, along with Carlow University and Robert Morris University, must pay $1 cash and must show their university-issued student ID to pay the discounted fare underneath the program.

Although SGA has reached out to administrators regarding both student parking and the U-Pass system, Paylo says that efforts have been made by the university to provide students with discounted rates for parking.

“Efforts continue to be made to seek out both available and affordable parking for our students,” Paylo said. “An example of this would be the discounted lease opportunities for parking at Station Square for our students. This program has been in place for a number of years and students have been taking advantage of this program.”

With this being the case, SGA is pushing for additional or discounted parking near campus, saying it would be beneficial for commuter students who have difficulties commuting to campus and would relieve stress for students worried about availability and cost.

“In all honesty, for a university that boasts about the commuter population and states that they are proud of their high number of commuters, it is a disservice to not offer [discounts],” Burkholder said. “Students are under so much stress with school, jobs, loans and personal matters that worrying about parking and being ticketed should not be an added stress.”