Can you please explain graduate student parking cost decisions?

Date: August 2022

Question

Dear Deans,

Cornell parking states that the reasons for revising the their policies are “to realign parking demand, introduce new technology, and provide equitable, easy-to-use, self-service solutions designed to meet the needs of all community members” and “to keep pace with the commuting needs of staff with eclectic work schedules and a growing student population”.

Can you please explain how increasing the price from ~$700/year to ~$1,300/year for grad students to park in the only central lot is in any way equitable? Why do graduate students who work full time year-round not have the same reduced price central parking options as employees? Who is present to advocate for the graduate student population when these decisions are made?

Regards,
Frustrated Commuter


Response

Dear Frustrated Commuter,

Thank you very much for raising this important issue. The Graduate School has advocated – and will continue to advocate – on parking costs because I strongly believe that the needs of graduate students are unique, and it is useful to have the perspectives of students on their specific difficulties. I understand that many research degree students are conducting their dissertation research at off hours, on weekends, and over the summer as well. 

Parking is a nearly universal frustration on campus, and I’m afraid that there are few simple solutions to ease the tension between ever-present demand and dwindling supply. As you’ve likely noticed, central parking lots are scarce and even the outer lots are under pressure as new buildings are constructed.

I reached out to Vice President for Facilities and Campus Services, Rick Burgess, for additional information. He explained that Daily Decision lots have been designated in several zones on campus to provide more choices for parking and to balance demand in central locations. The transportation demands of the campus have evolved significantly in the past two years, necessitating flexibility in parking for variable scheduling needs of students, staff, faculty, visitors, and event guests. Important academic mission-critical growth on campus has also impacted parking availability which further necessitates flexibility in use of high demand parking resources. Some annual permit parking has been reassigned to provide more options given these evolving pressures. There are several Daily Decision locations, at varying price points, to provide budget-conscious options. 

As always, it’s useful for students to share their own feedback directly with the offices responsible for each policy, and the Transportation Services staff is available to answer any questions and assist with strategies for Daily Decision, trip planning, or annual permit parking, so I encourage you to reach out to them with your concerns: transportation@cornell.edu; 607-255-4600. I know the parking and transportation team is trying to be responsive to the needs of all commuters.

Sincerely,

Kathryn

Kathryn J. Boor
Dean of the Graduate School and Vice Provost for Graduate Education