Ignoring restrictions could be a ‘drag’ for commuters

By Liz Ratto

For commuters, ignoring permit requirements could be an inconvenient and expensive mistake.

About 60 cars a month are towed from Northeastern’s four garages and several surface lots for parking illegally, said Jim Ferrier, associate director of public safety.

Since overnight parking permit holders pay to reserve parking spots in the surface lots, the Public Safety Division has an aggressive towing policy to keep violators in check. Cars parked in fire lanes or in handicap parking spaces without the necessary placards will also be towed quickly, but Ferrier commended the Northeastern community for generally respecting these reserved spaces.

Less serious parking violations are met first with a written warning, while second offenses in these cases will result in the towing of the vehicle, Ferrier said. Northeastern has a contract with a private towing company, licensed by the City of Boston, whose rates are regulated by the Public Utilities Commission.

While the university receives no compensation for cars towed from campus, a special arrangement made with the towing company allows students to pay with credit cards or checks to retrieve their vehicles after showing their Husky Card.

Ferrier said the towing policy stems from the fact that, as a largely residential university, there is no lack of parking on campus and that students, employees and visitors should have no need to violate parking rates and restrictions. The approximately 3,000 parking spaces on campus are roughly the same number the university had 20 years ago when Northeastern was primarily a commuter school, he said.

Surface lots once occupied what is now West Village, which includes the West Village residences and classroom buildings like Shillman Hall and the Egan Research Center, but Northeastern converted those spots into large parking structures such as the Columbus Parking Garage and the Renaissance Park Garage.

With 8,000 to 9,000 of its students living on campus, the need to expand parking facilities at Northeastern has diminished, Ferrier said.

“On most days there is no shortage of parking at all,” he said. “Lots and garages rarely fill to capacity.”

Day students currently pay $260 per semester to park on campus and an additional $380 per semester for the right to park overnight, with those rates set to increase for the 2006-07 school year.

Despite the added expense, some students, including day-pass holder Steve Crosby, acknowledged the need to charge a fee.

“Parking shouldn’t be free, that’s for sure,” said Crosby, a first-year business graduate student. “It would depend on where [students] are parking, but if it’s in the wrong places, then they should be towed.”

Students who return to where they parked to find that their car is towedshould call the Public Safety Division, at 617-373-2121, to find out if it has been towed.

A public safety representative is available to take students to the tow lot, free of charge, and ensure they can retrieve their car and make it back to campus.

Ferrier urged students to pay attention to signs both at on-campus facilities and on surrounding streets when they park, to avoid dealing with the time and expense of having their cars towed.

“I feel like it’s pretty intense to get towed,” said Lisa Slight, a middler biology major who parks in Columbus Lot overnight.

“People should probably get a warning first, but if you keep doing it, it is unfair because we pay a lot of money to park.” –>

Leave a Reply