by Raul Bencomo, Arizona State University

A story about expensive parking? Nothing unusual here. Parking at our university is notorious for its expensive price tag, and inconvenience. You might conclude that an annual parking permit is the answer, but not so fast. Consider these two factors:

1. The permits’ range in prices. Here in downtown campus, its $210 to $780.

2. Depending on the days you go to class, you are better of paying the meter, Lyft or private parking lots.

Ponder this: The length of an annual pass charges for dates outside of the school year, which run from 8/22/2019 to 12/6/2019 and 1/13/2020 to 5/1/2020 (Summer, 5/18/2020 to 7/10/2020). Elementary math shows, excluding summer for simplification, a student pays on the low-range $9.64 a week to the high-range of $27.86 a week (totaling 28 school weeks). However, the lowest amount ($270) applies only (I checked) to the Fourth Avenue Perimeter Lot, which is roughly six blocks away (Circle K is closer and cheaper if you just buy a 79 cent Polar Pop). The other closer, affordable, permits to campus are small and often filled (aka the “Eco-Pass”).

One also runs the risk of making a bad purchase! Getting bamboozled! Take my previous semester’s classmate. She somehow ended up buying an ASU parking pass, next to the professional baseball stadium Chase Field.

She purchased an “affordable” permit to walk 40 minutes each school day; four days a week. That is three hours each week, in the Arizona heat. In the Tempe campus, her parking permit was not valid. Worst, she paid hundreds for that permit, she was stuck with it.

I created a plan to have a parking spot that was as close to the $780 University Center “elite” parking spot, but more affordable and convenient. Melodramatically less than $27.86 per week.

Option No. 1: I schedule my classes to only two, maybe three days a week. I park where it is free (but far to walk) spot or from home, and then order a Lyft. I average$8 dollars per trip. I then stay at campus until late afternoon, until one of my relatives gets off from work. I ask them to pick me on their way to my house from work. I also do it vice versa: They take me in the early morning and I take a Lyft home.

Option No. 2: Use the ParkMobile app. I use Zone 23255, which is a few steps from Cronkite building’s entrance. Currently the price is $1.85 per hour. Classes equate four hours, so it comes out to roughly $8 a day. Best part, classes end early or get canceled you can pay per hour on the app, so you never go overboard.

Using either of these two options, I save myself about half of the amount it would cost to get the same “elite” parking spots through ASU. That is at least $332 dollars. No withdrawals of the other alternatives that sacrifice time, accessibility and sweat-free shirts.

Raul Bencomo is a student at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.