Curtin Guild has launched a petition to ‘phase out’ CellOPark, replacing it with a mixed ‘Pay as You Go’ (PAYG) and permit system.
The petition, which already has 5,780 signatures, is addressed to Curtin University’s Chief Operating Officer Fiona Notley and Vice Chancellor Harlene Hayne.
The petition outlines three changes to be made to Curtin’s parking; discontinue the ‘predatory’ parking app CellOPark, reduce the cost of parking fines from $45 to $20, and introduce a ‘more equitable’ system in the form of PAYG and permit parking.
‘Students, staff and visitors to the campus note that the app [CellOPark] frequently glitches, crashes or otherwise causes them to incur additional fees or fines, this regularly causes students devastating financial stress,’ the petition reads.
‘[Students] are faced with a parking system that preys on them, takes every opportunity to take money off them and refers them to debt collectors with the threat of legal action, when they are struggling the most.’
Between 8am and 5pm, Curtin students are required to pay for parking via CellOPark, a parking app which tracks the car’s location and number plate.
Students who fail to use CellOPark are charged with a $45 fine.
Guild President Dylan Botica says Curtin students often complain about ‘how buggy’ CellOPark is.
“The big problem with CellOPark is that students are getting charged service fees, or that it is logging in and out of sessions and disappearing, so they are getting a fine even though they remembered to start it,” he says.
“Students often have problems remembering to activate the parking session and it is a difficult system for neurodiverse people to navigate which often results in people getting fined.”
The university offers students with three parking zones which differ in hourly rates depending on the zone’s proximity to campus.
The ‘green zone’ is the university’s cheapest parking space, costing students and staff $0.84 per hour (capping at $4.20 a day), and is the furthest away from the university buildings.
The ‘yellow zone’ is described on Curtin’s website as ‘reasonably priced general parking’ costing $1.68 per hour (capping at $6.80 a day), and is closer to the buildings.
Closest to the university facilities is the ‘blue zone,’ with only 360 parking bays, costing $3.60 per hour.
Engineering student Sophie Kiggins says she is ‘disappointed’ in the university’s parking ‘money-making’ scheme.
“We’re already paying for our units, we’re already paying for our tuition and it’s not cheap,” she says.
“Why is it [parking] a money-making thing? It’s an educational institution, the whole point of us being there is to learn … it’s not about making money so why are you charging us so much?”
She says she only parks in the ‘green zone’ otherwise her CellOPark bill ‘just adds up.’
“Last month I got a [CellOPark] bill of like $50 … it’s such a bad system.”
The Guild’s petition says parking permits will provide a discount for students who need to attend campus more often, making parking payments ‘more equitable.’
Commerce student Elliott Hill says a permit system would help him ‘save heaps of money.’
“Even if [the permit] was $100 that would still be reasonable,” he says.
“I’d prefer to pay a lump sum than monthly because at least I know how much I’m paying.”
Dylan Botica says parking reforms are ‘completely in the hands’ of Curtin’s Chief Operating Officer Fiona Notley.
“We know that the university could implement these measures tomorrow,” he says.
“They could reduce the cost of fines as quickly as they want and bring in a permit system that’s affordable.”
“Phasing out CellOPark is something that could happen in just a couple of years depending on when those contacts end.”
Students can sign the petition here: https://www.megaphone.org.au/petitions/curtin-university-needs-to-fix-parking-now