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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Columns

Nightmarish it may be, but give parking a break


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Parking lots remain crowded even with the myriad of construction around campus. | Thomas Dwyer/The Cougar

Campus parking is groan-worthy and tedious at best. No student likes to deal with it, yet it remains like an ugly pimple that is ready to burst on picture day.

So what is the University doing to fix it?

As of summer 2016, three Economy lots, 16H through 16J, are closed. Another change came to lots 16E and 20C when they turned into student lots.

As if parking in Economy was not hard enough, the University has now eliminated all the lots on the north and east sides of campus. Better pack your hiking shoes as your only option is to park on the south side unless you want to be at Energy Research Park (ERP).

All of the Campus Loop buses are also discontinued. The new routes cater to those with disabilities and to the increasing number of students who have to park at ERP. Thankfully, that has added 1,000 temporary lots — but only for the next 18 months.

With all the new changes, students can expect parking permit prices to increase in fall 2017. The campus board has yet to announce their verdict on this. If it gains approval, and depending on the type of permit, a student can expect to pay $18–52 more than what they have shelled out this semester.

Great, another payment to further break the shattered piggy bank.

To be fair to the University, they are in a tight spot. Student enrollment increases three percent per year, which means more parking and more parking facilities are required. The problem is a vicious cycle.

The operating costs, electricity, maintenance, supplies, equipment, outside services and payroll for parking has risen 63 percent since 2007, according to Bob Browand, the director of Parking and Transportation Services. Trying to stay on track while adding more lots has been time-consuming, because they still have to maintain the current ones.

The Parking and Transportation Services employees are the unsung heroes of the school. They are the ones who fight to maintain and expand parking needs at an affordable cost. And yet are criticized for not doing enough to help.

I am thankful that the department paved the parking lots 4A, 9B, 19C and at the Bayou Oaks so students do not have to step through potholes and mud.

I also appreciate the plans to build Garage 5, which is scheduled to begin this semester and will be completed in 2018. Tough luck for the students who will graduate before then, but this will definitely benefit future students.

I am thankful that student garage prices here, up to this semester, are lower than prices at other Texas universities by 200-400 dollars.

The University has has incentives for students with permit discounts to carpool or be drivers for Uber. They will continue to push the trend in the coming years. The desired goal is to open more available lots for more students.

It’s a situation where both sides are struggling: the students with the parking and the University with the resources to add more parking. Let’s work together to park our differences and make way for growth and expansion.

Opinion columnist Crystal Rose is a corporate communications senior and can be reached at [email protected]

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