By Abby Pardew, Chelsea Bunting, Wil Spence, Trinity Knight, Jena Carr and Nicholas Van Meel
Free parking at Deakin University’s Waurn Ponds campus is failing to meet demand as staff push students to consider more sustainable transport options.
A portion of car park three is free but all other parking on campus costs $6.40 a day or $1.60 per hour.
On Monday of week 10, the allocated free car parks were at capacity before 11am.
Deakin student Zarah said finding free parking was almost impossible.
“It’s a bit hard on days when you have pracs. Trying to find a car park when there’s no spots, you literally drive around for maybe 10 minutes,” she said.
Elle, a first-year forensics student, bought a 120-day parking permit for $162.50.
“They want more people to come on campus but then they make us pay for parking,” she said.
A survey of 20 students at the Waurn Ponds campus found 100 per cent drove to university. Only three paid for parking, in order to be closer to their classes or on-campus residence, while 17 used free parking.
Deakin campus operations executive director Chris Jones said the university wanted to promote sustainable options.
“Overall we’ve got ample available car parking (at Waurn Ponds),” he said.
“It’s just constantly ensuring that we think the balance is right between affordable car parking for students and keeping the encouragement and enticement for them to look at things such as use of public transport network, use of the new e-bike.”
A 12-month trial of Lime e-bikes was rolled out across Geelong in September, with bikes located at Deakin’s Waurn Ponds and Waterfront campuses.
Mr Jones encouraged students looking for more free parking options to use the free shuttle bus, which runs every 35 minutes between the Waurn Ponds and Waterfront campuses, stopping at Barwon Valley Activity Centre’s free car park in Belmont.
“It’s proven really popular and it’s something we’re committed to continuing,” he said.
“(It) hasn’t quite recovered yet from its pre-COVID peak, but at its peak that was moving … over 100,000 staff and students a year between the campuses.”
Deakin aims to ensure most students and staff have access to sustainable transport options by 2030.
Waurn Ponds has a local train station that is a 34-minute walk from campus, and multiple bus routes go via the university.
Mr Jones said the university welcomed student feedback on parking and encouraged anybody having financial difficulty to access the transport assistance scheme provided by Deakin University Student Association (DUSA).
“It can include financial support to cover the costs of parking permits if they don’t have any other alternative but to be using a car, but it could also include support to assist them with the costs of public transport if they have that as an option,” he said.
Parking fines are issued by campus security between 8.30am and 4.30pm from Monday to Friday.
Students looking to suggest feedback on Deakin’s parking options can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 03 5227 1011.
Take our poll on student parking here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MY58BYK