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Safe Ride, Parking Lots Will Be Managed by Outside Company

Thomas R.Karlo-The Tech
Two Safe Ride vans stop in front of 77 Massachusetts Ave.

By Stacey E. Blau
News Editor

The Institute will move ahead with plans to outsource parking facilities and the Safe Ride service to a private company, in addition to instituting a new yearly parking fee, said Senior Vice President William R. Dickson '56.

MIT will probably soon begin contract negotiations with Standard Parking Inc., a company that already operates parking systems in several large cities.

Beginning in January, parkers at MIT will have to pay $300 a year to retain a parking space at MIT.

MIT needed to engage an outside company because of "the thousands of details" involved in running MIT's transportation services, particularly with the volume of paperwork that will accompany the new parking fee, Dickson said.

"The primary question is who can do it better," said Director of Special Services Stephen D. Immerman, who works in Dickson's office. An outside company with specialized expertise is better equipped to handle some aspects of MIT's transportation services, he said.

The changes will enable MIT to save money, Dickson said. "We're not out to make money on this, just to recoup the money MIT spends and break even," he said. "People who park at MIT should participate in defraying the costs," he said.

Decision expends political capital

The idea of retaining an outside company is one that has been discussed for several years, Dickson said.

A major study in the mid-1980s concluded that MIT should charge for parking at MIT to offset costs. But up until now, no one was willing to "expend the political capital" needed to make the decision, he said.

The new parking fee may be unpopular, but with rising operating costs, MIT thought it appropriate to charge more than its current $20-a- year administrative fee to cover paperwork in issuing parking stickers.

Since the new parking fee will go into effect midway through the academic year, the fee charged to cover a parking space starting in January until next September will be $150, Dickson said. Beginning next September, the full $300 fee will be charged for the entire year until the following September.

A new computer system will most likely be set up and several people may be hired to administer the new system, Dickson said.

The Campus Police will continue to be responsible for security for MIT parking lots and Safe Ride, Dickson said.

Safe Ride decision upsets drivers

Chief of Police Anne P. Glavin informed the nine parking lot attendants, two parking clerks, and 14 Safe Ride drivers last week about the decision to engage a private company, Dickson said.

MIT "will try to ensure that they will be offered positions with the new provider," Dickson said.

But several Safe Ride drivers had misgivings about the change.

"Of course I am upset," said one Safe Ride driver who declined to give his name. The decision to outsource "was something that came too quickly," he said. "I have no idea what will happen to my job," he said.

"I know I probably won't be working. That's life," said another Safe Ride driver who also would not give his name. "They want to save money," he said. "Why would they pay us $10 an hour plus when they can pay someone else $7?," he said. Safe Ride drivers are considered part-time employees but receive full-time employee benefits.

Broad future changes needed

The decision to outsource is really "a piece of the larger picture of how we manage transportation at MIT," Immerman said.

"It is entirely likely that MIT's services will have to grow," and changes will accompany the growth, Immerman said.

Immerman says that in the future MIT might consider several different plans to control surmounting parking problems. Various ideas, ranging from subsidizing mass transportation to building a rail line around the campus, might be considered to ease growing parking problems that MIT faces, Immerman said.