TSU to help ease parking crunch

A free off-campus satellite parking lot located on the Texas Southern University campus will be available for students starting Tuesday, Plant Operations officials said.

UH has been negotiating with TSU since late May for the space, and the deal was finalized at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday to offer more parking options for students, Dave Irvin, UH associate vice president of Plant Operations, said.

"For a number of our students, every dollar is critical, and this is going to be a great option for them," he said. "I’m excited about that."

The 232-space lot will be located at Scott and Rosewood streets, across from Frenchie’s Chicken, Irvin said. Two shuttle buses with the capacity of about 30 people will drive back and forth from the TSU lot to the Philip Guthrie Hoffman Hall shuttle station, Bob Browand, director of Parking and Transportation Services, said.

"PGH seemed to be the center of campus so we thought it would be the best drop off," he said. "If we try to add any more places, it would be too much. We want to get them to campus as fast as possible."

Monday through Thursday the shuttle will run from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and on Friday until 9 p.m. Although the buses will be driving on a different route, at night it will merge with the Red shuttle route if needed, Irvin said.

Depending on traffic, shuttle time to the UH campus will take about 10-15 minutes, Irvin said.

UHPD’s Cougar Patrol will also be available to escort students after hours if needed, Irvin said.

"We’ve got our police department talking to TSU’s police to get some sort of patrol schedule for the lot," Browand said.

Browand said that students interested in returning purchased parking permits have the option to do so.

"You can certainly do that, but you’re going to have to pay the visitor rates or risk getting a ticket at the normal campus parking lots if you want to park closer," he said.

To return a parking permit, students can go to Room 1 of the Ezekiel W. Cullen Building and be credited a refund either to their tuition and fees bill or back to their credit card, Browand said.

"This lot would defeat the purpose since we’ve already bought a parking tag," logistics junior Tiffanie Gums said. "But if I can get a refund, I think I’ll definitely consider it."

Based on last year’s figures, Browand expects that about 16 percent of students won’t buy a parking permit and will utilize this lot instead. The University wanted to finish negotiations with TSU before fall semester started, but because of TSU’s "state of influx," it was delayed, Browand said.

Parking and transportation administrators had anticipated that an off-campus parking lot deal would be finalized this semester and planned financially, Irvin said.

"We have some contingency in our budget," he said. "We had included it in our budget."

The University will be paying $1 for each space per day, which will roughly be $21,000 this semester and $40,000 to $45,000 for the additional shuttle buses, Browand said.

Irvin said that whether the University would continue its contractual agreement next semester or not will depend on how much demand there is. Either way, Irvin said that he thinks that this is a "win-win" situation for both parties.

"Well, they weren’t using the lot, and we need the space, and we’ll be paying them a bit of money for the privilege. From our standpoint, we have much needed parking," he said.

The lot, which is roughly 69,600 square feet, is only one-and-a-half years old, and Browand said he hopes that students will utilize it.

"My only concern is that no one will use them," he said. "There will be a learning curve, but there’ll be a ramping-up period. They won’t be there at all, and then word of mouth gets around."

Irvin said he is happy that he is able to give students an affordable option.

"I think cost is a critical issue; it gives a no-cost option, and that’s always valuable," he said. "And even if you don’t have a permit, it’s still valuable. If you’re in a part of campus and you’re tired of circulating, you can go here. It’s a fallback option that we never had before."

Consumer science and merchandising senior Nadia Kahanum said that she will definitely utilize the new lot.

"Yeah, this would definitely save me money. I mean, I don’t want to pay for economy parking. It’ll save time because in the morning, I’m just circling," she said.

Irvin said that the University would continue to look for off-campus parking lot locations.

For some students, it won’t affect them.

"I live in Jersey Village, so I just take the bus anyway," technology junior Nick Steiner said. "I would park there if I drove. I think they need another option; it’s good that they’re doing this."

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