Column: Parking permit problem

Column: Parking permit problem

Sometimes, when I’m walking around campus and happen to pass by a tour group, I like to follow them around for a bit and eavesdrop. It’s always interesting to hear the exciting information they’re feeding prospective financiers – I mean, students.

One day in particular, as the poor high school seniors pondered what it might be like to enjoy 30-degree weather in April, their tour guide exclaimed, “What’s great about Northeastern is that you don’t need a car on campus! The campus is small and contained, and you can get anywhere in Boston on the T.”

Well, she’s right. If you’re living on campus and don’t ever feel the need to leave Boston, a car really isn’t necessary. However, I’m sure she had already spent some time praising the co-op program and all its benefits. Unfortunately, a good co-op job sometimes requires a car.

And sometimes, having a car is simply more convenient. I don’t often make the two-hour trip home to Connecticut, but this month I happened to be going home two weekends in a row. Rather than buy four $30 bus tickets, I figured it made more sense to drive back up after the first weekend and drive myself back home the following Friday.

I knew there was free parking on some streets – Columbus Avenue, Charlesgate Street, etc. How hard could it be to find a spot?

When I drove into Boston on Sunday afternoon, I thought I had been right. I easily found a spot on Columbus, and even managed to parallel park without smashing into anything. “Wow, this is no problem at all!” I thought. “Why don’t I just keep a car up here all the time?”

I noticed I would have to move my car Monday night for street cleaning, but I had heard that two-hour parking spots could be used overnight as long as the car isn’t there past 10 a.m. I assumed I’d just move my car back to Columbus in the morning. No problem.

That’s where things began to go wrong. Tuesday morning I got up early and drove around in circles for more than an hour, my frustration building by the minute. There were no spots. Anywhere. And none were opening up. After missing a class and a half, I created my own spot in what might have been a tow zone and hoped for the best.

As far as I know, it’s still there. I hope.

Let me add that throughout this whole ordeal, paying for parking in a garage was not an option. I can barely afford to buy myself a Wollaston’s sub, let alone spend more than $50 on a week of garage parking. Perhaps it was a bad idea to bring my car to Boston without being able to afford garage space, but oh well. Too late for regrets.

I most likely will need a car when I go on co-op in July, but I certainly won’t be bringing mine up to Boston again until I get a parking permit. But what kind of permit should I get? In order to get a Boston resident parking permit, one needs his or her car to be registered in Massachusetts. This means changing one’s insurance policy.

Overall, this is quite a bit of hassle for six months of parking, especially since the registration and insurance would have to be changed back if I moved out of the state after graduating next year. And none of this guarantees even finding a resident parking spot.

The reasonable choice would be to get a Northeastern parking permit. Because I’m a Northeastern student and already pay $30,000 a year, I should be able to park in university parking for a reasonable price.

Northeastern’s idea of a reasonable price is $290 per semester for a day decal, plus $400 per semester for an overnight decal. Almost $700 for just one semester. In light of how much I’m already paying for tuition, this seems a bit steep.

It also seems to me that since parking is available in the Renaissance Parking Garage for an hourly rate, students should get some sort of discount with the presentation of an ID. Come on, Northeastern. Give us a bit of a break.

– Stephanie Shore can be reached at [email protected]

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