“Parking slots are full as early as 7:30 am,” says Paolo Ramos (I, AB-HIM), as well as other DLSU student drivers who cite that going past the morning traffic, rushing towards parking spaces, spending a lot of money, and being marked tardy in class are just some of the issues they experience in line with the limited parking spaces available in the University.
Some of the available parking spaces found around the University include the Enrique Razon Sports Complex, Br. Andrew Gonzalez Hall, McDonald’s Taft, University Mall, Green Court Parking, EGI Taft Tower, Burgundy Tower, SM Hypermarket, Madison Parking, and areas in Leon Guinto Street and Moldex Realty, Inc. along Vito Cruz. Some students even go further to the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex because no other options are available.
One of the cheapest but also unsafe parking spaces is along Leon Guinto Street which costs around P40 with a capacity of 50 cars. On the other hand, one of the most expensive is the EGI Taft Tower, which costs around P4,500 a month.
Rushing for parking
An informal survey conducted by The LaSallian last June shows that 54 out of 55 DLSU student drivers who responded believe that parking spaces around DLSU are not adequate. Majority of the students also prefer parking in the Enrique Razon Sports Complex since it is safer and the security charges a fixed rate. If the sports complex parking lot is full, however, students are forced to park someplace else where it is usually more expensive, unsafe, or both.
“Looking for parking space is a waste of time when I am running late, but during morning, there are still some parking spaces available,” explains Juan Carlos Redelica (IV, CIV-STE).
Often, a significant amount of time and money are wasted just to find a preferred parking spot. There are also times when living far away from Manila would entail unanticipated traffic.
“Bringing a car to school is really convenient for students especially if they live far from school. However, sometimes it becomes a hassle if there is simply no parking space in any of the locations,” cites Lance Quiling (II, BS-MKT).
According to the respondents, 6:00 am is usually the best time to find a parking space.
John Patrick Tan (IV, CS-CSE) adds that students are forced to go to school much earlier than usual just to get a parking slot. “It can cause students to be late to class if there are no more parking spaces available, and it has been the cause of theft and lapses in student safety especially if they park further off like the [Rizal Memorial Sports Complex],” he emphasizes.
Others mention that looking for a parking space alone would cost them a lot of gasoline. Ken* (II, AB-OCM) adds, “There may be times that you have 10 minutes left before the start of your class and you haven’t parked yet; that’s very stressful! At the same time, for you to have a parking space means that you need to arrive early in school just to have a space.”
The student drivers, however, share a common insight that waking up early to find a parking space makes them more disciplined and productive, and enable them to get used to the morning routine. Despite this, however, the costs associated with the limited parking spaces outweigh the corresponding benefits. With poor urban planning as one of the main causes of the limited parking space available, the University is going to need to devise more sustainable solutions.
A lingering issue
Since the late 1980s, the DLSU administration and students have already been looking for solutions to the parking problem. A 1989 article by The LaSallian cited that the College of St. Benilde parking lot was previously offered by the DLSU administration as a parking alternative. It was mainly used to accommodate around 280 student drivers who were displaced as a result of the closure of half of the St. La Salle Hall parking lot and the increasing number of students with cars at the time.
Among one of the recent solutions, however, was the integration with the DLSU Manila – Laguna Campus (formerly DLSU Science and Technology Complex [STC]), which was led by former DLSU President and Chancellor Br. Ricardo Laguda FSC in academic year 2013- 2014. The initial plan was on making classes mutually available for DLSU and STC students, offering shuttle services to students and faculty, and decongesting the Taft campus.
Until today, however, students argue that the integration has not done much in solving the congestion in DLSU, and that the University’s poor parking conditions are brought by poor urban planning within the area and lack of initiatives from the administration.
As of January 2017, the latest DLSU Facts and Figures report states that there are around 13,861 undergraduate students, with the number of student drivers currently unknown. This number also does not yet include the number of Senior High School students who drive their own cars. According to a July 2014 article by The LaSallian, Assistant Vice President for Facilities Management Engr. Ronaldo Gallardo explained that the Manila campus was designed for only 10,000 students. From then to now, possible solutions on the parking problems of the University remain to be seen.