Parking on campus has consistently been an issue that students speak out about each semester.
Students have taken to Twitter to express concerns about commuter parking that the university has had to offer. One student even made a claim on Twitter that said that the university was selling more commuter parking passes than there are commuter parking spots.
Cynthia Haile, director of parking services on campus, said, “It is a parking industry standard for universities to have a greater number of students than parking spaces because of the turnover ratios for commuters compared to other parkers. There currently are about 2,500 commuter spaces on campus. Commuters parking on campus are typically here for short periods of time compared to other types of parkers. Commuters may come to campus for a maximum of five hours during the day and usually the turnover is quick for parking spaces. In contrast, a resident is parked 24-hours, 7-days-a-week, using parking spaces for a longer period of time.”
To address more student concerns, I made an announcement on Twitter asking students to comment their questions about parking. To answer the questions, I contacted Director of Parking, the Interim Vice President for University Affairs, and the Student Body Vice President.
Question: “If I’ve paid $ for a permit & still gotta take a bus, why’s there not more buses & why can they not expand the routes to cover more buildings? What’s with this “the buses can only make right turns so it can’t get to that part of campus” … excuse?”
Answer: “Those busses are incredibly expensive and we have three of them and they run all morning. I spent the morning on Monday riding the shuttle bus. I found that in general, you never wait more than five minutes and you can get from the hall 20 parking lot to the STEM building in eight minutes. For me, it was really important that we make the shuttle bus as efficient as possible, so that if students are parking in the commuter parking lot or they are parking in the hall 20 lot, we can get them to the heart of campus as soon as possible,” said Adam Peck, Interim Vice President for University Affairs.
“People only have two complaints about the shuttle bus. It takes too long, and it doesn’t stop at every building on campus. And you cannot solve those two problems simultaneously. The one we chose to really put an emphasis into solving was, how can we get them to the heart of campus as quickly as possible. The evening shuttle, which we start at 4 p.m., makes stops all over campus, so you still get the convenience of that. But during the peak times, when students need to get to campus, that shuttle bus just runs a very short and efficient route.”
Question: “Why isn’t there any parking specifically for commuters? It’s always all permit which housing and faculty use too. If they have designated spots then we should too besides the commuter lot, correct?”
Answer: “What gets difficult is that, you’ve got a mix of a bunch of different people on campus. The reason why residential students have designated parking spots is because we need to have a certain number of spots available for a certain number of residential locations. The commuter parking lot, adjacent to the William R. Johnson Coliseum, it is just a limitless amount of parking. It is never full. Essentially, if you want very convenient parking, living on campus is a good way to get that. If you want the convenience of living off campus, then part of the cost of that is that parking isn’t as close to campus,” said Peck.
Question: “Why is all-permit parking being consistently reduced without any additional parking being added?”
Answer: “There are two new lots under construction on the south side of campus that will add approximately 100 new spaces. The cost of Student Center Garage parking permits has been reduced. The Board of Regents approved changing the annual price of the Student Center Garage permit to $200 per semester, or $435 for 12 months,” said Haile.
The director of parking services recognizes all of the suggestions from students. Specifically those suggesting to merge commuter and faculty parking lots together. Students say they should be merged because they both commute to campus.
“We appreciate suggestions from students and give the input we receive full consideration. We constantly monitor the use of parking lots and are willing to study any viable options for lot assignments that will best utilize our parking resources and meet the needs of SFA students in any feasible manner,” said Haile.
It can be hard to see from the student perspective, but Peck explains what’s going on and how the university is approaching this situation.
“Everything has a cost. We have to often make difficult decisions. There are more than 13,000 students, so there are 13,000 ideas of what the university ought to be. But the people who are making decisions for the university, we’re doing it in consultation with the students, and we want their experience to be amazing but often times, priorities shift. Right now, we’re building a number of different facilities; A new residence hall, a new dining facility, a new welcome center and one-stop shop, we’re investing in improving people’s experiences, but unfortunately, that means making choices and making priorities,” he said.
Student body vice president, Cathleen Young, weighs in on the situation from both a student perspective and administration.
“As someone who has gotten to hear both sides it is a tough situation to figure out. On one hand I understand that the university is changing and trying to ultimately make it more walker/bike ride friendly. The new construction ultimately will get all of the small parking lots out of the middle of campus but the university is trying to promote the buses more for students that don’t want to walk/cant walk from the commuter lot . On the other hand as a student it can be frustrating.
“However I really am trying to push people riding the buses! Maybe finding more sufficient routes or a set schedule could help. The University is trying to better itself and upgrade to an even more sufficient and prettier version of SFA. I am just hoping to be the bridge between the University and students to find a compromise and make all sides heard without frustration and petitions and more solutions,” Young said.