As Lehigh’s undergraduate population increases, parking continues to be a concern on campus due to a lack of spaces.
Since the start of Lehigh’s Path to Prominence initiative, the student population has increased substantially, with 1,406 students enrolled in 2019 and over 1,500 in the class of 2026.
In September of 2018, Lehigh Sustainability released a 32-page report relating the parking system to the Path to Prominence, outlining goals such as “increasing parking efficiency by taking advantage of currently under-utilized parking areas.”
As of now, students who desire parking on campus must pay a set fee for a parking permit, depending on their user group outlined in the university parking regulations.
The majority of students fall into the group of undergraduate and graduate student residents. For parking access on Asa Packer campus, a permit costs $450 for the school year.
Limited amounts of parking permits are available at the Farrington Square garage and Alumni Building Parking Pavilion, which cost $500. Commuter permits with evening and weekend privileges cost $90.
Parking permits are sold on a first come, first served basis beginning in July before the fall semester.
Permits are assigned to certain zones on campus that are marked by different colors. Students must park in their assigned zone to avoid being ticketed.
Sydney Williams, ‘25, said she feels frustrated by the cost of parking permits and unclear zone regulations. Williams lives in Sayre Park Village and parks in the Sayre Zone.
Williams said she once parked at the Umoja house, which is also located in the Sayre Zone. She returned to her car after class to a tow warning on her windshield.
“I don’t know why I’m paying $450 to not be able to park anywhere,” Williams said.
Williams said more of her classes are in buildings on Packer Avenue. When she has a 7:55 a.m. class and needs to drive there, she said she has to pay for metered parking.
“The parking doesn’t start until 8 a.m.,” Williams said. “I have to disturb class and ask my professor everyday, ‘Can I go pay for my parking?’”
On Packer Avenue, 10 minutes of parking costs 70 cents. Williams said she has to consider the additional cost of street parking when attending classes on Packer Avenue. On days with extreme weather conditions, walking is not always an option for her.
Liese Rios, ‘23, lived in Southside Commons last year and said she also struggled to find affordable and accessible parking.
Rios said the parking lot at Southside Commons has fewer parking spots than there are residents, so only a small percentage of people that live in that building are able to park there.
Rios said she had to purchase a parking permit for the top level of the Farrington Square parking garage, which is far from her apartment at Southside Commons.
This year, Rios is living on Polk Street, where she said she pays $50 for a parking spot in a specific zone in South Side Bethlehem. However, she said she has already received tickets in unspecified parking zones far from her house.
For some out-of-state students, having a car on campus is a necessity. Rios is from New Mexico and has four roommates from states that do not border Pennsylvania.
“It’s not realistic for us to just drive down with parents to move in and drive back,” Rios said. “So that’s four of us that need parking spots. Only two of us were able to get parking — the other two are parked 10-minute walks away. So everyone’s just trying to park wherever they can.”
Josh Goldstein, ‘23, lives in the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity house, which shares a parking lot with the Kappa Delta sorority house. Goldstein said he has experienced difficulty parking there both this year and last year.
Goldstein’s permit grants him parking access at the AEPi chapter house only.
“The cost of street and garage parking can add up to a hefty amount,” Goldstein said.
Goldstein suggested Lehigh create a parking pass for the Zoellner parking garage and street parking rather than requiring students to pay each time.
The Lehigh Parking Office and Bethlehem Parking Authority did not respond to requests for comment.