Institutionalized parking

Monash University - come for the education, buy a parking permit if you want to stayMonash University, the college where I currently attend for my tertiary education, is in a race to beat other Australian universities to see who can collect the most funds from parking permits.

The race officially started when the campus I attend, Monash Berwick, decided to implementing a parking permit system after 9 years of free and unrestricted parking. During those 9 years, parking spaces has only increased marginally and most spaces are still under full sun. The distance between your car space and the closest campus entrance can be calculated by a logarithmic graph in relations to time you’ve arrived after 9am.

To cover the cost of building 2 extra speed humps at the most inappropriate places (like a set 5 meters from the traffic lights), the school decided in 2006 to implement a color-coded parking system based on how weak you are. You see, the parking spots closest to the entrance costs more money, so the majority of staff purchase these permits. The lazier but richer students can purchase ‘premium’ permits which is a little further, but not as far as the eye can see. The generic student can otherwise purchase standard permits which also doubles as a fitness training program. And the beauty of this system is, you’re not even guaranteed a reserved space. Parking suddenly becomes competitive!

Last year, the ‘blue’ generic permit set you back $55. This year, Monash wants to heat things up a notch. Blue permits in 2007 will cost $140. Alternatively if you’re not very smart, you can use your Monash concession card which costs $99 to sign up, and get a discounted permit for $98, which combines to $197.

Graph of parking permit fee

Over a year’s time, there was an increase of 150%. By the time I graduate, parking could cost more than books, which was the holy grail of school expenses.

It shouldn’t be long before $8,000 per year college fees are abolished in favor of a park-as-you-learn system. To integrate my learnings with real-life situations, I would say this is what marketers define as a “cash-cow”.

14 insightful thoughts

  1. $150 US here for a year. And you don’t even get guaranteed parking. Through some complex formula involving triple integrals, the school calculates that it can give out more permits than it has spaces, simply because people have classes at different times of the day.

  2. All part of trying to make up for the lost funds through the move to voluntary student union fees, isn’t it? The same is on at other Monash campuses, and no doubt other universities throughout AU.

  3. Well, if you split a finite size car into infinite pieces and reassemble after lessons (left as an exercise for reader), you can park not only freely, but also unnoticably even on full parking place :)).
    Hell, you can even double your car if you do it cleverly (I heard it with a proof on a mathematical analysis lecture) :)).

  4. I totally understand! They have increased parking on campus by building a huge structure but they still fine people like crazy. On our campus permits cost close to $300 US. Suffice to say since I need to program very very very late on campus and buses don’t run this late I end up having to walk 1.5 miles home. I hate these money grubbing universities.

  5. Something similar happened at the University of Washington, Bothell Campus as well. For the past several years, parking has been $1 a day, or about $32 for a full quarter of unlimited parking. This year, they raised the price to $2 a day, or about $65 for the full year pass. They also added partial week passes, like Monday & Wednesday pass. Like others, this doesn’t guarantee us a spot, just lets us park without paying.

    We did get a small benefit from the raise in the rates. They installed new pay stations that finally accept credit/debit cards. The price hike wasn’t enough to get me to stop driving either, due to my schedule. I think parking would have to hit around $100 a quarter to get people to change their driving habits.

  6. Paid campus parking is not unusual. Usually it starts with the faculty and staff then runs down to the student where it is incorporated into your student card fees. The comparator is fees that are charges elsewhere in the city are usually a little lower thus they say it is fair. Visitors will get metered parking. In theory it goes back into the parking lot for lights maintenance etc.

  7. Nice to see someone else (with a much more popular blog :-) ) get on to this.

    I blogged about this when the first announcement came out last month at:

    They seemed to have upped the daily rate too, from 3 to 5 bucks (

    It just seems like they’ve always wanted to do this, and now they have the perfect reason – VSU. Let’s see what else they’ve come up with…

    P.S. Interesting to see the rates being compared overseas – personally, I know we had it cheap before, but the timing and the massive hike is what annoys me.

  8. I hope our society will not enact such things as a park-as-you-learn system :) I read a lot of blogs about all kind of things and most of them are about how everything is getting far too expensive, (as you said the education, the fuel, the electricity, the food, etc.) I’ve made a web page about Toronto parking permits because it was getting out of hand even there as well. Let’s just hope it will change it the long run but as long as inflation is in the cards it will always be a good excuse to put the prices higher and higher.

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