By Lisa Gresci

BOSTON (CBS) – New parking rates at UMass Boston sparked a protest from campus workers Wednesday morning.

The daily rate at the new West Garage is now $15 a day, up from $6. The garage cost the school more than $69 million.

UMass Boston workers protest the on campus parking price hike at the new garage. (WBZ-TV)

“We only found out about the price hike after the thing was built we had no expectation that building a new garage to replace our falling down crumbling old garage was going to fall on our shoulders,” said Anneta Argyres, president of the professional staff union. “It’s going to price our working class students out from having classes here.”

Paul Carpenter works at the university as a plumber and says between gas prices and these new rates, he’s spending nearly $30 a day on his commute.

“It’s a ball and chain around our neck unfortunately, they almost triple your parking fees.  It’s a lot of money,” he told WBZ-TV.

According to the university, the first notification about parking rate increases was sent out in July and another went out at the end of December before the change was posted in January.

The school said parking prices have not gone up since the $6 rate was set back in 2004.  Fifteen years later, the administration believes this is a fair solution to help operate the new garage and cover other costs.

Parking rates at the West Garage at UMass Boston. (WBZ-TV)

There is a sliding scale system for parking rates at the university based on a person’s salary. The cheapest pass for someone earning $40,000 or less is $160 a month for on-campus parking.

“That’s with a monthly pass that is supposed to be discounted it’s crazy,” Argyres told WBZ.

She said students are also outraged and scared because for many of them driving to class in between work shifts is the only way to get an education.

“This is not what we should be doing as a public institution that’s a commuter college,” she said.

The West Parking Garage at UMass Boston. (WBZ-TV)

Kathleen Kirleis, UMass Boston’s vice chancellor for administration and finance, released this statement:

“A new parking rate structure was required to cover the costs associated with all of our parking facilities, whose rates have remained unchanged since 2004. The alternative was to continue subsidizing parking fees with tuition funds diverted from programs, faculty hiring, student financial aid and other priority areas. We have worked to mitigate the impact of the new rates by offering substantial discounts to those members of our community who park frequently or are at the low end of the pay scale. For example, for non-union employees earning salaries in the lowest income band, our approach will increase the cost of parking by only 30 cents a day over the current daily cash rate of $6. We also continue to bargain with those unions with which we have not yet finalized agreements on parking rates. We have also guaranteed that students will pay the lowest rates available on campus. We will continue to subsidize the free shuttle service to and from Bayside and public transportation at a cost of more than $5 million annually. Public transportation is an essential aspect of access to the campus, used by thousands of students and employees on a daily basis.”

Lisa Gresci

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