By Joanna Tavares
In the 2011-2012 fiscal year, parking enforcement gained approximately $500,000 in revenue from parking tickets alone. However, the money is not going to transportation.
The revenue is divided unevenly between the bursar and parking enforcement. James O’Connor, the director of sustainability and transportation at Stony Brook University, outlined how much of the money went to each department.
According to his data, $140,000 went to the bursar’s office to pay for staffing as well as stock permits available for students and faculty to attain. $175,000 went toward supporting the technology used in parking enforcement, such as website maintenance and Ticktrack, a system that monitors and records the permits issued to the community. Finally, $257,000 supported the parking enforcement and ticketing effort, including the staff salaries and fueling of vehicles.
“In some sense I’m kind of surprised the money isn’t going to [transportation],” said Joy Pawirosetiko, president of the Commuter Student Association, when she was informed where the money collected from parking enforcement went. “I know people have to get paid, so in some sense it is doing a service. But in some regards there is such a large structural deficit for transportation itself.”
Many students are frustrated with the parking situation on campus. Pawirosetiko said she previously parked in the South Parking Lot, but became fed up with having to rely on the buses to get to campus. She now pays $150 per year to park outside the stadium, something that offers her more control over her schedule.
Pawirosetiko acknowledged that while students want more convenient parking options, there simply may not be enough space for them and they could interfere with the university’s environmentally friendly mission.
“It’s a difficult tug and pull between what the students want and where the money is going,” she said.
O’Connor’s transportation department, which spends about two percent of its budget on creating and maintaining parking lots, is entirely funded by a steadily increasing fee paid by students. Parking enforcement is a function of the university police, though the two services work close enough together that a student looking for information on how to pay a parking ticket would be sent back and forth between the two websites.
O’Connor explained that parking enforcement does more than bring in revenue. It encourages students to get permits or park legally elsewhere, freeing up spaces for permit holders. It also works to keep buildings accessible to emergency personnel.
“It absolutely benefits students, and it benefits the greater community,” said O’Connor.
The Chief of Police at Stony Brook University, Robert Lenahan, described the department as efficient.
“Parking enforcement personnel have all been extensively trained in the use of their hand held ticketing devices,” said Lenahan. “They are also knowledgeable of the parking regulations that govern our campus.”
Jeanmarie Ricciardi, who works in human resource services, regularly parks in the garage by the administration building. When presented with where the parking revenue went, she said she trusted that it was being put to good use.
“Things make money and that’s how people get paid,” said Ricciardi.