UA addresses commuter parking issuesBy Patty Vaughan | 08/31/2010 7:06pm
Along with increased enrollment and bus route changes, parking on campus has been a concern shared by faculty, staff and students.
Every year, Transportation Services asks students and staff to apply for parking passes that allow them to park in the area that best fits their daily schedules. However, it’s not easy for Transportation Services to find a happy medium and please everyone.
Chris D’Esposito, assistant director of Transportation Services, said they try to keep track of all the parking areas on campus.
“We monitor all of the capacities in the parking [areas] to make sure that things aren’t over utilized,” D’Esposito, said. “We do take into consideration what is said in previous years. Last year, we got criticized because there weren’t enough people parking in the west ten Hoor area.”
Because construction was completed in the gravel lot behind Publix, Transportation Services was able to add 150 to 200 spaces, D’Esposito said.
“We oversell all the commuter areas on the knowledge that not every student and not every faculty [or] staff member comes to class or their office on the same days at the same time,” D’Esposito said.
The number of spots allotted to the west ten Hoor parking deck is 1,599. This year, 3,124 students – an increase from about 2,600 last year – received the west commuter parking pass, while 149 students were denied.
“We’ve given more opportunity for people to have the west commuter area, which for whatever reason, has the highest desire,” D’Esposito said. “We try to accommodate the desires of students, faculty and staff by putting as much parking in there as possible but not overstepping the bounds.”
Seth Morrow, a senior majoring political science, feels the University needs to do something drastic about parking.
“I think the University is trying to put a Band-Aid on an issue that needs to be addressed with a more comprehensive solution,” he said.
Ronnie Robertson, director of Transportation Services, said they have seen a problem with the west commuter parking area and are trying their best to figure out the issue.
“We are seeing some problems,” Robertson said. “We don’t know if it’s something else going over there. It could be a scheduling problem. Were working on it and trying to see what’s going on over there.”
D’Esposito said they are not provided a class schedule, so they’re not sure what the busiest times of day are on campus.
“All we try to do is try to make sure that we’re using an area to its fullest without exceeding the demand,” D’Esposito said.
Abby Mason, a junior majoring in accounting, said in an e-mail that she feels the University failed to accommodate the amount of new freshmen entering campus.
“Parking is much worse this year, and I believe the problem is no one took into account that the large class of freshmen who had to live on campus last year would be living off campus this year and commuting to park this fall,” Mason said. “Parking on campus is over crowded, and finding a parking spot is time consuming. It takes at least 30 minutes to fight traffic to leave campus.”
Morrow said he sent an e-mail to Transportation Services to figure out why parking was such an issue this year. He said he feels parking is slowly moving in the right direction, and he is happy that the University is listening to students.
“They put the cones on the curbs, which has kept cars from parking. It’s good to see the University at least is listening, and it was nice that they responded to the e-mail.”
As for the future of parking on campus, D’Esposito said Transportation Services is facing a landlocked situation. The University is bordered on three sides by the city of Tuscaloosa and one side by a river, he said.
To build a regular parking lot costs $5,000 per space and a parking deck is $13,000 to $15,000 per space.
“There’s only so many places that we can go. You need a considerable funding and considerable land. Right now, from what we have given to us to work with, there’s not too much more we can do.”
As for Morrow, he said he believes that eventually there will have to be a limitation of cars on campus.
“If we continue to increase enrollment, we’re going to have to limit the number of cars that are allowed on campus,” he said. “I look forward to a solution being found in the future. I think if we continue to grow, we have to adjust the campus.”