Consultation on parking fee after student backlash

Massey University is holding off on plans to increase parking fees at its Manawatu campus after a backlash from students.

The university's current parking price at the Orchard Rd site is $2 per exit, with students able to park for between 2 hours to 10 hours without additional charges.

Under the proposed changes, students would be charged $2 for four hours, with the fee rising by 50 cents every two hours before being capped at $3.

Those without an identification card will be charged under the new fee structure from April 20 but staff and students are for now exempt after a wave of discontent against the hike caused Massey to expand its consultation with the Massey University Students Association (MUSA).

Nursing student Robyn Croukamp, 18, said she would not be happy if the fees changed.  "I think it's unreasonable. I thought that they would be raking in enough money."

Vet student Charlotte Williams said she was reluctant to take the bus instead of her car because she often did not get home until late at night and did not want to be walking from the bus stop in the dark.

Massey University Students' Association president Linsey Higgins said students had expressed concern that some of their needs hadn't been acknowledged.

Massey University spokesman James Gardiner said maintaining the car parking facilities and subsidising the free bus service for students had increased over the years.

The Massey University and Palmerston North UCOL unlimited access schemes allow student to travel free on all Horizons Regional Council urban buses.  The scheme started in February 2005.

Gardiner would not say what the revenue for the parking charges was year on year.  He would not say exactly how much Massey pays for buses as it was a "commercial agreement".

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He said it was worth "several hundred thousands of dollars a year".

Massey announced on Tuesday that it would hold off on increasing the fees for students and staff.

Gardiner said this was to allow time for further consultation. Massey was asking for submissions by April 20, he said.

He said there was "limited consultation" between Massey and MUSA about the changes to the parking fees.

Higgins said MUSA understood the university's reasons for the changes.

"There is a need for a system to remain financially viable."

Higgins said she was pleased there would be further consultation.

MUSA was holding a forum on Wednesday at 5.30pm in the MUSA lounge where Massey staff would be available to answer questions.

 - Manawatu Standard

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