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.

“The new garage will help tremendously this Fall and getting the spaces at the stadium back a year later will also help. But students will still need to utilize the economy and ERP lots,” said Robert Browand about the current lack of parking spaces. | Aisha Bouderdaben/The Daily Cougar

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.

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  • As a point of perspective – back in the day – 1979 to be precise – a parking permit at UH gave you the mathematical possibility of a parking space. As much as things change they remain the same!

  • It sounds like the school is willing to sell as many permits as they can, without regard to how many spots may actually be available. That seems a bit dishonest to me.

    • I struggled with this, but the fact of the matter is… What other option do they have? I would like to believe that the oversell on the permits is calculated such that there should be just enough parking available for everyone that needs to park on campus at a given time, but the fact of the matter is, if they draw a line in the sand with the oversells, some people will be refused permits to park on campus. What are those people going to do..? It’s not as easy as “take the bus”, because not everyone lives by a bus stop, wants to wait around or plan their day around the bus schedule, or thinks it’s safe to be waiting for or even riding a bus around Houston late at night. If I understand correctly, the parking and transportation department is self-funded, meaning that parking fees get funneled directly back into the department to construct more parking, pay officials to police parking lots, etc. They’re not just stuffing your parking fees in their pockets; they’re attempting to pay off current garage debts (~5.5 million) and to afford to do things to make the parking situation better. If you have any other ideas on how to make this work, I would be interested to see them.

      • An organizational mandate for an immediate solution and a business project manager, ME, with a sense of urgency will solve this in two months with band aid solutions to start.
        The sign of failure in parking and student success evidenced by student class drops, student drop-outs and other institutional service failures are the handfuls-to-partial lotfuls of empty parking spaces half way or so into the semester. Getting a parking space is not impossible then half way through the semester until students cram in what the teachers didn’t teach yet expect regurgitated and the students didn’t agonize over to somehow get B’s or better in final exams.
        Person who needs paying business project work immediately and who is absolutely prepared by outlook and skill set to solve problem of all shapes and sizes for real can be reached via 281-870-3782.
        All this is funded by retention and real achievements. There are thousands of UH customers in financial debt all ready strung along, committed for years at a time, hovering for two scenarios: partial success or utter failure. No excuse.281-870-3782.

  • If you can believe it, getting to UH and parking, then finding a way to be comfortable, safe and get something done (in addition to PhD `fellowship funding debacles) ruins a positive UH experience and [for me tragically 100%] undermines academic, research and in-Houston success. Parking, eating, studying on-campus, and being comfortable on-campus need fixed sooner than tomorrow 01/31/13. This article is a reminder of a huge utter failure to continue my clear course of training, aspirations and contributions that I had absolutely no control over. And I know for a fact I am not alone in this. The logistics and the organizational failures are still too incredible for me to believe as I reflect on my experiences at UH. I have never seen anything like this as an undergraduate or graduate student at several large and mid-size universities. Dr. Khator you can get this done (and I am a huge fan of yours – the new salary $ alot too much though). The lack of parking, AFFORDABLE eating, and reliable, safe, comfortable shelter that is missing for students (and faculty for that matter) is unfair and it is (and every single day continues-to-be) organizationally incompetent to do otherwise. And even give all this waste and ineptitude, still I am would do anything I can for UH including providing these criticisms for free up to and including getting paid for fixing stuff large and small. There is a big payoff for employing my particular business insights and skills today 01/30/13.

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