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Monday, October 22, 2018

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Parking explained: Student permits to be divided into zones


Parking and Transportation services will undergo major changes throughout the next several years.

Student lots will now become zone lots, and there will be a new ranking system. These are some of the changes coming to parking. | Michael Slaten/The Cougar

Amid a full slate of changes coming for 2018-19, the most significant is that Student parking permits will now require students to park in a specific zone on campus.

Staff within Parking and Transportation Services hope the new zones will improve the distribution of traffic across campus and prevent the most popular lots from filling too quickly. Parking is set to expand over the next several years with new garages and parking guidance systems.

There will be six zones, or clusters of parking lots, for students to choose from. Students can park in zones not specified for their permit after 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and on weekends, according to a PTS blog post.

Director of Parking and Transportation Bob Browand explained in the blog post that the most popular student lots are 4A, adjacent to the UH South/ University Oaks METRO Rail stop, and 20A and 20C, across from the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center.

How students purchase permits will be different. Later in April, students will apply for a parking permit through AccessUH as usual. When a student applies, they will rank their permit choices from most desirable to least, including which zones they would like to park in.

Some zones, such as F, which includes lot 12A, will consist of only one parking lot. Others, such as zone C, will include up to five parking lots.

“I have to say, as someone who parks in the same lot everyday, (if) I didn’t get the one I wanted, I’d be pretty pissed,” communications sciences and disorders senior Niko Reyes said.

Reyes usually parks in lot 20A. He said he’ll make sure to be ready for permit signup so he does not end up with a less desirable zone.

Permits will be distributed to students on first-come, first-served basis, and the permit type they receive will be the highest ranked choice a student picks with permits still available.

Psychology senior Nicole Cordray has a student permit and said students don’t have classes in the same part of campus everyday, so she fears they will be forced to park away from their classes on certain days.

Permit revenue for FY 2018, for Sept. 2018 through Aug. 2019, is expected to be $11 million, according to a PTS budget.

Permit revenue is expected to increase by 169 percent to $30 million by 2024.

By then, garages 5 through 8 will be open. All new garages will have parking guidance systems installed, and current ones will have them installed over the next year.

Garage 6 was approved in March at a Board of Regents meeting and is expected to cost $58 million.

“I’m just glad. (With) all the students that stop me everywhere, I have no problems with money for a parking garage,” said chairman of Board of Regents Tilman Fertitta at a March Board of Regents meeting. “That’s everyone’s biggest complaint.”

About 1,300 temporary parking spaces will be added between Texas Spur 5 and MLK Boulevard by September 2019. Eventually, additional family housing for students will be built over the parking spaces along with soccer and football fields.

Jim McShan, senior vice president of Administration and Finance, said in March the timing of the new recreation fields coincides with the construction of the future medical school over the recreation fields on the corner of Wheeler Avenue and University Drive.

Parking rates will also go up by an average of 16 percent through FY 2020. A garage permit will cost $635 next year and $690 the following year. A student permit will cost $370 next year and $405 the following year, according to parking rates approved in March.

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