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End of free parking

MAASTRICHT. Free parking at university buildings for employees has had its day. The Executive Board is planning to introduce paid parking in Randwijck and will include the city centre when doing so.

Vice chairman of the Executive Board, Nick Bos, reported this to a university council committee last Wednesday, 13 September. There will be a detailed plan within a few months, he announced. For the moment, Bos only gave a sketchy idea of the plans and afterwards refused to give any further information.

Until now, parking has been free of charge for employees with a permit, which in principle is only issued to those who live a minimum distance (15 km) from the UM. Students can make use of the site on the Sorbonnelaan, where at one time the Calatrava campus was to be erected: every student UM card has been programmed for this purpose. This site has a few hundred parking spaces, also free.

All of this is about to change. The change of policy is the result of the situation in Randwijck, which is about to undergo a transformation within the framework of the so-called ‘area development’. This means more green, more water, all to make the area more attractive. And so, also fewer parking spaces. At the same time, MUMC+ is making plans for a large building under the name Mosae Vita, as part of the Health Campus, and the UM is also going to build laboratories and an animal testing/biomedical centre. The city council demands that new buildings have their own parking facilities, if necessary underground. That option is expensive, says Bos, so the UM (in collaboration with Mecc, provincial government, city council and MUMC+) would rather look at the Randwijck area as a whole. For instance, Mecc's parking lot “which is only really full to capacity two weeks in a year”. Still, thoughts are veering towards a new parking lot, says Bos.

But all this doesn't explain why UM employees in possession of a parking permit should, in the future, have to pay for their parking spaces. Bos mentioned a number of arguments in favour of this during the committee meeting. The first was that other universities also have only paid parking facilities. Furthermore, he referred to MUMC+, which also charges its personnel for parking. “We want to harmonise policies,” said Bos.

Should the UM take this approach, then cyclists will receive not only all kinds of facilities, but also a reward (50 cent for those who live close by, one euro per day if you live further away than four kilometres), while motorists will have to delve into their pockets. The hospital doesn't have a distance limit, everyone is allowed to come by car, but the closer you live, the more you pay. The subscription rates vary (5 euro per month for under 2 km, dropping to 1 euro for further than 7 km away) and day rates that are also differentiated, from 3 to 1 euro.

UM employees in the city centre, who obviously have nothing to do with developments in Randwijck, will also be subjected to the new regime in the name of equal treatment.

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