U of M parking garages lose that human touch

We’re accustomed to seeing auto-pay stations in most parking garages these days.  But the U of M has been somewhat of a hold out.  The U’s 16 parking garages are staffed by attendants, real live human attendants.

No more.  The U will start installing automatic equipment at its parking garages next month.  All 16 garages, plus a few parking lots, will be completely electronic within two years.  It’ll cost the U of M $1.6 million.

That means 15 full-time parking attendants will lose their jobs in the next 18 to 24 months.  50 to 60 student positions will also disappear.

Jacqueline Brudlos, the spokesperson for the U’s parking and transportation services department, tells me the move will save the U $1.4 million a year in labor costs.

It will also means no more sneaking out of the garage without paying.  Apparently some crafty motorists wait until the attendant goes home for the day, then exit the garage for free.  Brudlos says that will mean additional revenue for the U, although she can’t say how much.

One union representative lamented the change in Thursday’s Minnesota Daily:

“We think that it’s going to harm the University in the long run,” said Sue Mauren, principle officer of Teamsters Local 320, which represents the full-time employees. “I don’t think machines will ever replace the people that work here.”

Mauren said parking attendants at the University do more than machines by helping direct visitors and providing additional security at ramps targeted for auto theft.

“It’s real unfortunate, and I hate to see any job loss,” Mauren said. “Many of these people are longtime employees and have contributed a lot to the University, and I think it is a real sad situation for them.”