UM catching on to wave of the future

Parking is always a topic that raises concern among the student body. To help the parking situation, the Department of Parking and Transportation is making a few changes in the cost of parking permits-that is, if one is the owner of a hybrid car.

During the Fall semester, Dr. Richard Weisskoff, professor of International Studies, gave his Economics and Development course the assignment to find something that could be done at UM that would make a difference in the environment.

Nolan Jaeger, senior, and Shawn Rosen-Holtzman, junior, both International Studies majors, developed the idea of giving parking discounts to students who owned the newly popular and more environmentally friendly hybrid cars. What started as a class project has now become an initiative that will be implemented beginning in the Fall 2005 semester.

“We began researching the idea after the [2004 presidential] elections,” Jaeger said. “With [George W.] Bush as president, the energy stocks went up and it was apparent that we needed to invest in alternate fuel sources and conservation.”

After receiving a positive reaction from Dr. Weisskoff and other members of the class, the team approached UM President Donna E. Shalala with its proposal. Shalala simply said it was an “interesting idea” and put the two in contact with Chuck McConnell, director of Parking and Transportation.

“Our expectation is to increase overall awareness that hybrid cars have a number of benefits and hopefully encourage people to look at this new breed of vehicle when they are considering purchasing a new car,” Rosen-Holtzman said.

The incentive to give a discount may not dramatically change the number of hybrid cars on campus, but it is likely to have some effect on UM students’ car choices.

“I think it’s a great idea that the University is supporting efforts to protect the environment,” Molly Maldonado, sophomore, said. “I may even look into buying a hybrid car, which is something I hadn’t really considered before.”

Only those cars that get at least 29 miles per gallon of gasoline qualify for the discounted parking permit. The stipulation was decided upon as a result of companies producing hybrid SUVs that are not as fuel efficient as some of the more compact cars.

Students who purchase a parking permit with a hybrid car will still pay the full price upon receiving the tag, but will be credited back half of the amount when registering an approved fuel-efficient car.

“We are excited about this promotion and hope that it is a success on campus,” McConnell said.

Parking and Transportation will evaluate the number of hybrid cars registered during the fall semester and will determine the impact of this new incentive on the University community.

Stacey Arnold can be contacted at