In the 2015 spring semester, Lehigh Transportation and Parking Services issued 4,011 parking citations. Although 755 appeals were filed last semester, only about 40 to 60 percent of them were granted.
“We listen carefully to appeals and aim to fix parking lot ambiguity so that the same violations don’t keep occurring,” wrote Brett Johnson, assistant manager of Lehigh’s Parking Services, in an email. “Our goal is to make parking at Lehigh easier. If you think a sign or parking area is confusing or ambiguous, please let us know and we’ll work to correct it.”
Last spring, the Parking Appeals Committee consisted of six undergraduate students, one graduate student, one faculty member and two staff members. Parking Services staff are not on the committee. The committee meets weekly to review appeals, and tickets can only be appealed within a week of the issue date.
Depending on the penalty, fines range from $25 to $150. In order to determine the prices of tickets and parking passes, Parking Services looks at a variety of research and data, including parking permit revenues and costs from previous years, what schools in areas similar to Lehigh are charging, and supply and demand on campus. Many schools in the area charge similar rates. A general parking violation ticket at Lafayette College is $20, as opposed to Lehigh’s typical $25 fine.
“The revenue generated from permit sales and parking fines goes directly to fund parking lot and garage maintenance, and the enhancement of parking services for the campus and community,” Johnson wrote. “The safety of our students and the Lehigh community is our No. 1 concern, and proper maintenance is crucial to achieving safe and suitable parking options.”
According to Parking Services, its parking fees discourage violations, but they also assist in subsidizing the maintenance of the parking lots and parking structures, the roadways and the Parking Services office.
The revenue has also been used to resurface 13 fraternity and sorority lots in recent years and has allowed the installation of “10 minutes free” buttons on meters. Reloadable SMARTcards can now be used in meters as well. However, it does not appear that the revenue is being used to create new parking.
Despite the fact that there are more students attending Lehigh than ever before, there are no current plans to increase the number of parking spaces at the university. There has also been a loss of parking due to temporary construction this year.
Although Lehigh has no immediate plans to create new parking spaces, the Bethlehem Parking Authority is looking to build new garages.
“There are two proposed garages on the South Side. One at Third and Polk (streets), the other at South New Street and Graham Place,” wrote Kevin Livingston, executive director of the Bethlehem Parking Authority, in an email. The Bethlehem Parking Authority also issues student permits.
Students, who already pay $350 for on-campus parking permits, are frustrated by parking policies and fines. There is often confusion regarding when and where students can park.
“I wish they had signs on the meters themselves,” Cody Chen-Shao, ’18, said. “Someone told me you don’t have to pay at brown meters after 4 p.m. I parked at the meter and was fined $25.”
When purchasing a parking pass, a student is directed to park in a specific area and cannot park wherever he or she pleases. This may be inconvenient for some students, whose classes or residence halls are located far from their designated spots.
Students with permits, including commuters, are only allowed to park in the student commuter parking lot on Mountaintop Campus, in unreserved faculty and staff parking areas Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 a.m. and all day on the weekends, at green meters, and at gold meters outside Upper UC and Farrington Square Garage.
“Permits are designated for certain areas so that people will have a better chance of finding a space, particularly if they reside or work in the specific area the permit is for,” Johnson wrote. “This allows for more efficient usage of parking areas as well as more efficient traffic patterns around campus.”