Eagle Tales: Commuting

Excerpts from the Eagle archives


cars and commuters on campus

1956: The 1930 Eagle staff predicted that in 30 years, “low, stream-lined, high-powered cars will run about the campus.” The clairvoyant scribes wouldn’t have been surprised to see a congested AU campus in 1956. After workers at the nearby Naval Security Station began filling two new parking lots north of the McKinley Building, AU distributed campus parking stickers to students for a whopping 25-cents a year. Parking violations carried a $1 fine for the first offense with dollar increments for repeat infractions up to $5. AU physical plant manager Ed Mack took enforcement a step further with a naval employee who accumulated 14 tickets, letting the air out of her tires. According to the Eagle: “The young lady no longer parks here.” 

1974: With 2,374 commuters vying for parking spaces on campus, AU raised the cost of an annual permit from $2 in 1970 to $20 in 1974. “Inflation doesn’t move that fast,” one incredulous sophomore told the Eagle. The rate hikes continued, reaching $80 by 1977. 

1984: After several years-long delays set its opening further down the track, the Tenleytown-AU Metro station finally debuted, providing commuters with another transportation option. AU announced plans to budget $200,000 for shuttle service to and from the Tenleytown Metro. The shuttle remains free for members of the AU community, but Metro rail fares have risen considerably from the 1984 maximum fare of $2.40.

1988: The new seven-level Bender garage upped AU’s parking capacity to 2,500 spaces, alleviating some of the gridlock for 3,100 permitholders. The university restricted the Nebraska Avenue lot to commuters the following year, with overflow parking permitted at the nearby National United Methodist Church. 

2001: As a condition of the DC Zoning Commission’s approval of the 2000–2010 campus plan, the university adopted a  “good neighbor policy” that prohibited members of the AU community from parking on surrounding residential streets. It’s a policy that for many, still requires paper tucked under the windshield wiper to learn. AU issued 869 good neighbor-related parking citations between August 2017 and August 2018.