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Task force examining parking fees, T passes

An MIT task force is exploring a proposal to revamp the parking and related transportation services MIT will provide to the community beginning next September.

The idea is to broaden benefits to the community through subsidizing public transportation passes, adding bicycle spaces, increasing security measures in parking areas, and setting a parking fee for commuters and residents that would cover more of MIT's operating costs.

An anonymous e-mail box has been created to receive community viewpoints during the group's deliberations on the detailed issues involved.

Stephen D. Immerman, chairman of the task force and director of special services in the senior vice president's office, said the Federal Clean Air Act and the City of Cambridge will continue to limit parking for commuters in Cambridge.

"Subsidizing MBTA monthly passes offers a benefit to the more than half of MIT employees who do not have parking privileges. It also may help relieve the overcrowding of MIT parking lots-11 percent of some 500 MIT automobile commuters told a survey made last December that if transit passes were subsidized by MIT, they would buy a pass," Mr. Immerman said. The group has not yet made any recommendations on the level of subsidy for T Passes nor on the mix of subsidy and fees for parking for annual permits and day passes.

The cost of monthly transit passes on the MBTA is as follows:

Bus Pass, $20 a month ($240 a year);

Subway Pass, $27 a month ($324 a year);

Combo Subway/Bus pass, $46 a month ($552 a year);

Combo Plus pass, $48 a month ($576 a year), for subway/bus, plus Quincy Adams and Braintree subway stations and the first $1.50 of express bus fares;

Zone 1 System Pass, $64 a month ($768 a year) for Zone 1 commuter trains, buses, all subways and the first $2 of express bus fares;

Zone 2 System Pass, $72 a month ($864 a year) for Zone 2 commuter trains, buses, all subways and the first $2.25 of express bus fares.

A discount on Massachusetts automobile property damage and collision insurance premiums is available to those who send the insurance company their transit passes for 11 of the previous 12 months. The discount is 10 percent up to a maximum of $75.

On parking, a survey of other colleges found that MIT was unusual in that it has simply a minimal administrative fee for an annual permit. Harvard's annual parking fee is $310 (roughly $1.30 a day) or, for a reserved spot, $565 (roughly $2.35 a day). Boston University's annual fee is $600 (about $2.50 a day). MIT's administrative fee for commuter parking is $20 a year (about 8c a day).

MIT's operating costs (maintenance, plowing, and parking attendants) for parking are expected to average more than $400 per space in fiscal 1996.

"Our goal," said Mr. Immerman, "is to come up with the most equitable solution possible within the guidelines of providing some funding for public transportation while also lowering MIT's costs. We welcome creative suggestions from the community via the anonymous e-mail box, .

The group plans to make recommendations in November to Senior Vice President William R. Dickson, who expects to review the matter with the Academic Council, the Committee on Transportation and Parking and other appropriate community groups. An announcement is expected early next year.

The group is considering a wide range of detailed issues, which include figuring out the most effective mechanisms for transit pass payments (cash, payroll deduction or the use of a single MIT payment card); automatic access systems for parking; the number of parking permits to allocate; parking fines; a day-pass system and how it should be administered, and fees for residential parking.

The group includes members who commute by car, by public transit, and by foot. The members are: David Achenbach, Personnel; Judy Brennan, Housing; Richard Caloggero, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; Kenneth Campbell, News Office; Paul Church, Campus Police; Neal Dorow, Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs; Gayle Fitzgerald, Conference Services; Jack Foley, Physical Plant; Chief Anne Glavin, Campus Police; Mr. Immerman; Mattan Kamon, graduate student; Michael Owu and Lydia Snover, Planning Office. Bea Frain, Planning Office, is the staff to the group.

A version of this article appeared in the October 5, 1994 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 39, Number 7).

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