Campus News

New 10-year parking plan will significantly impact commuters

With enrollment projected to increase by 3 percent each fall, Parking and Transportation Services’ 10-year parking plan will significantly impact student commuters.

In a blog posted on the PTS website March 29, the service outlined the first changes from the plan that will go into effect in fall 2016. Along with the increased parking rates, the 10-year plan will limit permit sales, discontinue semester permits and combine economy and economy plus parking.

The Board of Regents voted to approve the proposed parking rate increases in February.

“A 10-year plan absolutely makes sense when you consider the logistical implications,” now former Student Government Association President Shaun Theriot-Smith said. “What this plan demonstrates, though, is the potential for permit rates to drastically increase in the coming years.”

Beginning in the fall, PTS will begin selling a limited number of permits. Once permits are sold out, students will need to find alternative ways to get to and from campus or place themselves on a waiting list.

“I’d much rather them have a cap on parking permits,” broadcast journalism senior Kerri Barnes said. “It should never take someone 30 minutes to an hour to find a parking spot. Letting students know when permits are sold out will hopefully minimize the congestion in all the economy lots.”

Another change involves semester permits. There will no longer be an option for students to buy permits on a per-semester basis. Anyone who needs a permit for only one semester can purchase an annual permit and return it at the end of the semester for a prorated refund.

The final change PTS announced so far was combining economy and economy plus parking and allowing students with economy passes to park their vehicles closer to campus after 4 p.m. each day, a perk currently only reserved for economy plus.

PTS is also working to provide 24/7 parking to residents and incentives to encourage UH commuters to use alternative transportation in order to minimize the parking demand.

“Right now, it’s really hard to manage the oversell of the student parking facilities,” Browand said. “We have a group of residents that are parking here 24/7, so that space never becomes vacant, and we have commuters coming and going. It’s hard to determine what the oversell of parking should be.”

PTS hopes to phase in 24/7 resident parking over the next three years and covert 3,000 current parkers to alternative transportation such as car pool or METRO services over the next four years.

“I feel that students will appreciate the economics behind the decision once they see the justification,” Theriot-Smith said.

According to a YouTube video outlining PTS’s 10-year plan, an increase in permit prices was necessary to stay financially stable.

“We are an auxiliary service,” PTS director Bob Browand said. “What that means is we are self-supporting. We operate off of the fees we charge for our services.”

Funds that previously went toward maintenance, repair and improvements are instead being used to support daily operations while the condition of parking lots and streets is deteriorating.

And as enrollment rises, surface parking may be lost to new educational and support facilities, and the only way to meet future parking demand is by building garages. 

Because PTS receives the majority of its funds through permit sales, garage parking rates will need to increase to support a large portion of the debt service, which is something the UH community may not understand right away.

“The increased rates are reflective of a price closer to the true value of providing parking services on campus,” Theriot-Smith said. “Our permit rates have been undervalued, generally, and Parking and Transportation Services has been overstretched in terms of budgeting capacity.”

[email protected]


  • 24/7 parking shouldn’t be a thing in the general lots. They need to have separate parking specifically for resident halls – one spot per person, with a limited number available. That would help tremendously. It’s unnecessary for students living on campus to be storing their cars in the student and economy lots 24/7 – not to mention rude to commuters. For most people, it’s utterly unnecessary to even /own/ a car if you live on campus.

    But, instead of discouraging on campus students from storing their cars there 24/7, they’re going to punish the commuters instead – those who usually don’t have much of a choice when it comes to transportation and parking.

    In addition, charging students higher rates to fund garages that have yet to be built is ridiculous. They should charge the students who actually get to use them – those parking there /after/ they’ve been built. I’m certain it wouldn’t be hard for PTS to get a couple loans to build them. It would be a super safe investment.

    • I’m with you right up until the garage funding.
      We’re not paying for garages that have yet to be built. We’re paying back the debt on the three garages that have already been built.

      The link below details how permit fees are spent:

      There’s an interesting graphic on there that shows how the loans are supposed to mature over time. It shows that right now we’re paying back overlapping funds for all four of the built-out garages so far with a 5th on the way in 2020ish (when I suspect parking rates will hike again). The first garage bond doesn’t mature until 2025, and by then who knows what other parking developments will be in play. I’ve seen plans proposing up to three new garages.
      54% of their entire budget goes to paying back these garage bonds. Rolling those costs back in to ONLY the price of a garage parking pass would be grossly unfeasible and uneconomical. You would be looking at something like a $2500 price tag on an annual garage pass which is as much as it is to live at some dorms. Since they wouldn’t sell as many garage passes they would have to adjust the price of other parking permits anyway to make up the gap.

      Now while some of the dorms on campus do have dedicated parking, I agree that more should be done to ensure that people who do rarely move their cars aren’t interfering with daily commuter traffic.

  • High schools have created 9th grade campuses to lower the strain on main campuses. Perhaps satellite campuses should go that way only offering freshman and sophomore level classes. Of course more satellite campuses should be built NE and SE to accommodate the growth.

Leave a Comment