By Ahmed Wafaey Mansour and Mohamed El Sherif
Some students at The American University in Cairo will begin receiving refunds for parking fees, after the administration halved the initial 3,000 L.E. parking fee earlier this month.
“We already started the process of refunding the 50 percent for those who had already paid,” said Ron Smith, the associate vice president for Facilities and Operations. “We received a little bit over a hundred so far, but no one received the refund yet.”
The Student Union, which argued with the university to lower parking costs, said the fee reduction should result in more students buying parking permits.
“I believe students will prefer the parking permits because now the fees are reasonable with no big difference, and it is much safer to park on campus,” said SU President Mohammed Ali.
Only 455 parking permits had been purchased out of an available 2,000 by the mid-September deadline, according to the university.
Some students, though, said the price was still too much.
“I didn’t get a permit when it was for 3,000 L.E., and I still won’t get one now,” said Omar Salah, a Business Administration senior. “It’s still too expensive, especially that the other options aren’t that bad.”
Salah said that he currently parks in the desert, for free.
“Although these prices are now similar to what I used to pay the valet at the old campus, it felt like a necessity because the valet really was my savior,” Salah said. “Now I have other options, free of charge.”
Gamal Sultan, a professor, said he used to pay about 100 L.E. a week when he parked at El Bostan, a commercial garage close to the old campus. After the cut, he calculated that he would now pay 35 L.E. a week.
“I am satisfied with the decision, I think it’s very reasonable,” he said. “Paying 3,000 L.E. per year, to only use the permit three times a week was just unreasonable, and I would have never bought a permit.”
Sultan wondered, though, if he could use a different car with the same permit.
Ali said the fact that only a fraction of parking permits had been sold by the September deadline convinced the university to lower costs. “It is a matter of supply and demand,” he said.
But there still were questions about what the university would do next, as it was stated that the price cut was a one-year plan.
“I promise that the SU will try to keep the situation as it is now,” Ali said. “If the parking fees are increased again we will make sure that there are enough services in the parking lots – like shaded areas for the parking spaces – to make sure that the parking worth its fees.”