The Cost of Parking
The University of Zurich is increasing its parking fees from 1 January 2023. François Chapuis, Vice President Real Estate and Facility Management, explains why this step is necessary.
There are parking spaces available at various University of Zurich sites for visitors and UZH members. The Executive Board of the University has now decided to increase the parking fees from the start of next year. What led the Executive Board to take this decision?
François Chapuis: We last adjusted the parking fees 11 years ago – the current rates are very low and well below the market level. The cantonal design plan, however, requires us to rent out parking spaces at market rates. In addition, the current rental income doesn’t cover the infrastructure and operating costs incurred. We are therefore incentivizing behavior that should be discouraged.
How do you mean?
As long as the income from parking fees doesn’t cover the costs, we are effectively subsidizing parking spaces – which means we are favoring individual transport by car over public transport. This clearly contradicts our sustainability strategy. The UZH Sustainability Policy aims to encourage people to reduce emissions by walking, cycling or using public transport to travel to the university.
Is the fee increase a sustainability measure then?
In a broader sense, yes. But first and foremost, parking fees need to cover the costs of providing the spaces and must be set at market rates. At present, the parking space provision is running at a deficit of 1.4 million francs, so action is urgently needed. At the same time, UZH is committed to sustainable mobility and would like to convince as many of its members as possible of the same. The main UZH campuses, City, Irchel and Oerlikon, are easily reachable by bike and public transport, and most UZH members already travel this way.
Nevertheless, some users are not happy about the big fee hike...
That’s understandable – for some it may be above the limit of what they are prepared to pay. But even if the increase seems steep, while it reduces the subsidy level, it’s still not enough to cover the entire costs for the 1,833 parking spaces.
Does that mean fees will increase further?
Even after the increase, the fees will still be below market rates, which means we are not fully meeting the requirements of the cantonal design plan. It is possible that we will have to raise prices again, but no additional fee increase is planned for the moment.
Staff in many university units perform shift, emergency or on-call services on behalf of UZH and are thus dependent on parking spaces. Are there special regulations in place for them?
University units whose members can only commute to UZH by car due to irregular working hours can reserve some parking spaces. But from 1 January, they will have to pay for them. Only parking spaces for people with disabilities are exempt from fees.
Are other higher education institutions in the city also raising their parking fees?
The mobility management policy of the Zurich City University District (HGZZ) states that ETH Zurich, the UniversityHospital Zurich (USZ) and UZH must charge market rates for their parking spaces. ETH and USZ have both recently adjusted their parking fees.
UZH provides parking spaces for employees, students and visitors at a charge. The parking spaces are part of the real estate belonging to the administrative assets of the canton of Zurich, or are rented from private owners. UZH has different parking tariffs for different categories: fixed (assigned) spaces rented by internal and external users, non-fixed (first come, first served) spaces for general use by UZH members or visitors, and spaces for people with disabilities.