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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Campus

Parking and Transportation Services unveils permit changes


Virtually all surface lots on campus will be student lots beginning this fall. | File photo/The Cougar

Students who relied on the relatively low pricing of economy permits this year will soon have a lot longer to travel than the edge of campus.

Parking and Transportation Services will transition all on-campus economy lots to the Energy Research Park, leading the department to rename the economy permit as the remote campus parking permit. Additionally, a new evening/weekend permit is tailored to students who are on campus only on weekends or after 4 p.m. on weekdays, allowing students to either park on campus or at ERP, said PTS Director Robert Browand.

“These changes are part of our long-term parking plan to help better manage the use of parking resources on campus,” Browand said in an email. “The new permits will allow PTS to offer more permits without affecting the oversell ratio, therefore increasing students’ access to their desired parking type.”

One of the adjustments effectively changes all economy lots to student lots, which Browand said is the second phase of a process PTS started last year in accordance with its 10-year parking plan.

This change, he said, will help PTS manage the oversell rate — the rate at which PTS sells more parking permits than existing spaces because not everyone with a permit is on campus at the same time. The current oversell rate for student lots and ERP, Browand said, is 1.6 and 2, respectively.

“These changes will consolidate the two student lot options into either main campus or remote campus parking,” Browand said. “This will make the oversell rate consistent across all main campus lots, which in turn should improve the overall campus parking experience.”

The remote campus parking permit, Browand said, was renamed to reflect that the permit will not be valid on the main campus, though he said it will allow main campus parking Saturday, Sunday and after 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The remote campus parking permit, which costs $10 more than this year’s economy permit, could utilize approximately 500 parking spaces that go unused daily at ERP, he said.

“People will know what they’re getting when they get (the remote campus parking permit),” said Elliot Kauffman, chair of the Transportation and Parking Advisory Committee. “Buildings have been built that make what was economy closer than certain student lots.

“Parking has just changed on campus, and we had an underutilized ERP. They changed the name so that people have a full understanding that these parking spots are not going to be nearby per se. They are going to be for a remote lot, but there’s still parking on campus, and there are still shuttles that take them from those parking spots to campus.”

Browand said the ERP’s hours of operation for the shuttle service — 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday — will not be altered for remote campus permit-holders who are on campus during late hours.

“There are no plans to extend the hours of the ERP shuttle service since students with the remote campus permit can park in the main campus lots after 4 p.m.,” Browand said.

One change to the shuttle service will be made, he said, with the creation of a new bus stop on the shuttle route, although the exact location has not been finalized.

“In order to better serve the arts and professional districts on the north side of campus, we will be adding a stop on the PGH-ERP route near entrances 17 and 18,” he said, referring to the area on Elgin Street near the General Services building.

Kauffman said students who park at ERP should download the Double Map phone application, which provides users with shuttle times and each bus’ location.

“You can see all the buses, and it has GPS trackers on all the buses,” Kauffman said. “I’m not one to plug anything, but if you take the shuttle, there’s no reason not to download this app. It helps you know where the bus is, so that you’re waiting at a stop like, ‘Oh, the bus is literally right there.’”

The new evening and weekend permit, available for $105 for the full 2017-2018 academic year, is for employees with nontraditional work hours and students enrolled in night classes, Browand said.

“The evening/weekend permit was created to provide individuals who only park on campus during the evenings and weekends a lower-priced alternative to a daytime permit,” he said. “Additionally, this will allow PTS to better manage the oversell of student parking permits resulting in more students being able to purchase that permit type.”

Stephanie Gómez, a political science and history senior with a student lot permit, said she is not hopeful that the adjustments will mitigate the problem of quickly finding parking on campus. Gómez said it usually takes her about 30 minutes of searching for a parking spot before she gets frustrated and leaves.

“It sucks after noon until about four,” she said. “I live on campus so I don’t go home. I just find a coffee shop and hang there until everyone leaves. It’s really just not worth it sometimes.”

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