They seem to miss the single, works every time, solution


They seem to miss the single, works every time, solution

An editorial in the Western Carolina University lists five things students can do to alleviate the campus parking problem. Read it here. These "solutions include everything from "taking the first space you find" to "Camping out in the space" to "Parking you car there the night before" to "Take the bus."  However they miss the one solution that will work, and works every time. The university needs to charge more for parking. Let the free market work.

Based on the article, all the parking problems one finds on university and college campuses exist at Western Carolina.  There appear not to be enough spaces. Students spend hours cruising the lots for spaces,  often pass perfectly good spaces looking for those closer to the classrooms, emotion and anger are rampant a near fistfights often break out over a simple piece of real estate.

The editors of the Western Carolinian have defined the problem, but they miss the solution. Students would be motivated to use one or more of the solutions they list, if they had to pay more for the spaces. Those that wished to pay, would find a place to park, those that didn’t, would take the bus, walk, or carpool. Seems simple to me.

And for those that think that this is a less than egalitarian approach consider this: If market rates were charged for parking, there would be money and motivation available to provide more parking (and shuttles, carpools, vans, and other programs.) When more parking was available, the price would go down (remember econ 101 –  that old law of supply and demand — supply goes up, demand goes down, and so to prices.).

However, providing simply bandaid solutions to the problem will make them worse.

OK, politically raising prices is difficult. One might need to provide some bribery to make it more palatable. The school could take some of the money generated and provide it to the students in the form of low cost loans, support of student activities, discounts in the student store, maybe a new student union. All paid for by parking fees. Properly publicized, the raise in fees would not only be supported by the students, but lauded as a great solution to a perennial  problem.


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John Van Horn

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