So, as part of the budget tightening here in the house, I stopped driving in to work and started driving to the bus and taking it to work (Route 4B, to be precise). Parking’s free in the commuter “park and ride” lot, so I traded in my blue monthly parking permit for a yellow one, just in case I need to drive to work. That meant going from $50+ a month in parking expenses to around $10 a month, and saving around $80 a month in gas.
The trade-off? Blue permit parking structures are huge enclosing parking ramps, multiple levels tall / deep, and all over central campus – one’s right across the street from my office, in fact. The closest yellow lot (single level, exposed to the elements) is a fifteen minute walk away. Since I’m usually taking the bus, that walk isn’t a problem.
However, family scheduling concerns and impatience with the morning bus (i.e. bus pulling away just as I’m pulling in, and knowing the next bus will make me 20 minutes late) mean that I do have to drive in on occasion. The walk across campus isn’t all that much fun in the rain – I’ve done it a few times now – and I don’t want to think about it in the snow… and then there’s my recurring knee problems that make walking an adventure all on its own. All this brought me to re-examine my parking practices, and the university’s Parking and Transportation Services site in particular. One of the parking options available is a pre-paid pass. They have scratch-off window hang tags (scratch off today’s date to validate the tag), as well as electronic scannable identification tags, like the regular ones used for parking structures.
Ten uses of either device to access a blue lot will cost $50. That’s double the expense of a regular monthly service ($50 for 20 regular daily uses), but I don’t see any sort of restrictions or expiration date for usage. That means $120 for a year of yellow, or $50 for 10 uses of blue. As long as I don’t use the blue pass more than… twice a month, that would save a few bucks. It sure would be more convenient over the winter in those cases when I’d have to drive in. I’d just need the $50 on hand to make the purchase, since I can’t do payroll deduction to cover pre-paid like I can a regular monthly pass. Looks like I might need to ask Santa for a parking permit…