Amanda Cheek, News Editor

On a campus that understands commuting all too well, a parking permit can easily become one of the bare necessities to students at George Mason University. That being said, it comes as no surprise that students are concerned that the prices of that bare necessity are going up.

“I know that prices go up, I just don’t understand why. I’d like to know why every year,” said junior Brittany Rouse, a communication major.

Director of Parking and Transportation at Mason, Josh Cantor shed some light on this subject in an e-mail interview with Broadside.

“Parking [and] Transportation is a self-funded auxiliary, meaning it receives no tuition dollars or general funds from the state budget. Thus, it has to generate revenue to cover all its expenses,” said Cantor.

Cantor explained that Parking and Transportation’s expenses include $2.6 million in operations and $4 million to $5 million in debt on deck construction projects. Cantor said that there is also $2 million to $3 million annually in transportation expenses, which include a subsidy to the City of Fairfax so that Mason students and employees can ride the CUE bus for free, and over $2 million in shuttle expenses.

“ . . . What we basically do each year is lay out all our known expenses, what we need to budget for lot repairs and added shuttle service. Figure out how many permits we expect to sell and then calculate what is the lowest amount we can set our permit fee and expect to break-even as an operation,” said Cantor.

Senior Cragin Winkler a recreation, health and tourism major, said that the permit prices are just too high.

“They are taking millions from us,” said Winkler, “Mason Parking is robbing us. The prices are very unreasonable for students.”

Winkler has a Lot R permit and lives in the Potomac building.

“I understand that I have to deal with the prices,” she said, “but it makes me angry to pay for a parking permit when I live on campus, and I still don’t have a guaranteed parking space.”

Cantor said that the national trends show that universities charge resident students more than commuters. Cantor said the thought process behind this idea is that a commuter is usually only on campus about four to six hours per day, and their spaces can be used by two or three students per day, versus residents students who are less likely to move their car as often.

“UM-College Park charges their resident students twice the commuter fee with this mindset,” said Canton. “We have tried to offer as many options [as possible].”

The general lot price this year was set at $225 annually, which is cheaper than if you bought two separate semester permits at $125 each. This is still a $25 increase from last year’s fee. The deck permit increased from $400 to $450 annually, as well.

Cantor said that Mason Parking and Transportation remains aware of other schools’ prices both regionally and nationally.

“Each year, our fees are always in the middle of the pack,” said Cantor.

Cantor also mentioned that  the proximity of parking areas are considered when comparing prices.

“Whereas our last 10 percent of students have to park at the Field House, for many schools such as UVA, UM-College Park, Virginia Tech and Penn State, the Field House is about as close as most of their students can park,” said Cantor.

One concern junior Brittany Rouse had this semester with her permit was that she did not get her money’s worth.

“I scheduled my classes early on Tuesdays and Thursdays to make sure I got spaces,” said Rouse, who is commuting for the first time this semester. “I don’t have much of a problem now, but I regret not just getting the general parking permit every time I pass the new Rappahannock Parking Deck and see the sign that says how many spaces are open.”

Rouse commutes from Arlington and has classes every day. She said that it takes 40 minutes in the morning and 15 to 20 minutes in the afternoon to find a spot.

“I don’t think it was clear how many general spaces were in the new deck,” said Rouse. “I think that Parking Services has done better in past years with letting everyone know the new options, but could do more.”

Richard Friedman, a junior chemistry major, commutes 25 minutes from Woodbridge to make it to classes. Friedman said he was impartial to the permit prices increase because he knows prices rise on most things.

Friedman also said he felt that it was very clear what the options were for parking permits and that he has the best permit for his needs.

“I read the paper the gentleman gave me when I bought my permit, and he explained everything,” said Friedman. “He was pretty thorough.”

Cantor said that several e-mails have been sent to students throughout the summer and as the semester has started with information on permits and prices. He also said that Parking and Transportation has upped their numbers of personnel on campus to help students understand how the new parking areas work.

“We had personnel at some lot entrances to direct cars, and we had them at every access point to the new Rappahannock River Deck to help direct people, as well as in the Student Union Building II ballroom during in-person permit sales [and] online permit pick-up,” said Cantor. “We probably talked to thousands last week just in the ballroom, giving out information and answering questions.”

Cantor also mentioned that there are Facebook and Twitter accounts that exist to promote awareness to students on parking, and that he updates them often.