Drivers face daily space race
When Robertson Stadium was destroyed, so were 2,016 spaces for student parking — only 771 of which will be returned following the completion of the new stadium.
Students have three options for parking: Garage, Student Commuter or Economy. The Stadium Parking Garage was designed to help offset the loss of Robertson Stadium parking, but some students are unable to afford the $322 annual fee.
Psychology sophomore Jasmine Joseph, who now parks in Lot 9C across from Cullen Oaks Apartments, parked at Robert Stadium and said the amount of students who lost spaces preceding its demolition is foolish.
“My friend had to park around the Pondarosa to get to class,” Joseph said. “You have to worry about buses. They’re not the same size, so not as many people can fit at one time. You have to literally wait for God knows how long for a bus and then you have to get to class.”
Spring 2013 students have been encouraged to try the Energy Research Park, which has been open to students since 2009, with its own campus bus route.
Director of Parking and Transportation Services Robert Browand said the ERP offers 1,000 spaces on a regular basis with an additional 200 for overflow parking when needed.
“Students do not have to drive from parking lot to parking lot looking for a parking spot or wait for another student to leave in order to park,” Browand said.
Garage 1A, the newest parking garage located in former Lot 1A across from the Moody Towers, will open Fall 2013 and house 1,500 spaces, adding 850 spaces to the former 650. Browand anticipates there will be a time where commuting UH students will have the luxury of driving to campus during anytime of the day without wondering if they’ll find parking.
“However, their expectations cannot be to park next to their building. It will still be necessary to have and use remote parking areas such as economy and ERP,” Browand said. “When that time will be depends on how quickly parking supply equals parking demand. As long as campus construction takes away parking lots and the users are reluctant to absorb higher costs to build more parking, that time will remain in the future.”
Parking costs are inflated every school year because parking is an auxiliary unit and receives funding only from its users, Browand said.
“With each garage, our debt service grows up to $5.5 million,” Browand said.”Our shuttle costs have doubled since 2004 reaching $2.5 million last year.”
Both parking garages and surface lots are oversold with the garages being oversold at reduced ratio.
“We certainly do not want to oversell the parking lots as much as they are,” Browand said. If we stop selling permits at a certain level, we will still have students that need parking, and what are they to do.”
Groome Transportation, the University’s new bus company, has added five buses since the first day of class to accommodate the buses’ peak times.
If students don’t swipe their Cougar ID when boarding the shuttle, Parking is unable to identify when more buses are needed.
“By not swiping, service demands are underestimated. We use the card data as a way of gauging ridership, and it helps us manage the operation better,” Browand said.
Computer science sophomore Matthew Allen has started his first semester and is overwhelmed by the parking chaos.
“It’s pretty difficult to find a spot unless I come really late or really early. I typically have to ride the bus even though I pay for a student commuter pass,” Allen said. “Right now, I’m at the Energy Research Park. I’d rather park on campus, but right now I really don’t have many options.”
For students who are still having trouble finding a space before class, Browand advises students to arrive early and avoid old habits.
“If the parking lot was full last week, don’t go there this week. Try another lot. The garages still have spaces available so consider upgrading your permit,” Browand said.
“Car pool if you can and save your space for a fellow cougar,” Browand said.