The parking disconnect
Students continue to express parking concerns
Fifty-six percent of students said they have missed class because they could not find a parking spot, according to The Spectrum’s parking survey. Thirty percent said they’ve been late to class for the same reason.
Brandon Surdi, a sophomore geosciences major, chose early classes when he made his schedule for this semester. Surdi doesn’t love waking up early, but he commutes from Grand Island every day, and knows if he arrives at school later than 9 a.m., finding a parking spot might be a problem.
Surdi still feels like parking has worsened since last year.
Forty-seven percent of UB students agree with him, according to a Spectrum poll, which surveyed 131 students. The Department of Parking and Transportation has not added any new parking spots and does not have a solid plan for future accommodations while UB’s enrollment continues to grow each year. UB enrolled 4,045 first-year students this fall, which is the largest freshman class UB has ever seen and the largest freshman class in the SUNY system.
Director Chris Austin said Parking and Transportation is considering the construction staging along the J.J. Audubon Parkway as the location for a potential parking lot to support the high demand on the north side of North Campus. They have also looked into adding parking in Governors C and D lots, which would increase capacity up to 40 spaces.
The design and construction of a parking garage would cost $15,000-30,000 per space, according to Austin. Parking and Transportation is currently in the assessment phase; any construction would not begin until the next fiscal year. The current amount of parking spaces makes it a tough sell, Austin explained.
“Our field observations are not showing any changes from the last two years to this fall semester,” Austin said. “It’s challenging to justify making such an investment in something we have an existing supply of, with transit options tied in to that existing supply.”
Austin recommends students who arrive at UB later than 10:30 a.m. park in the Center for Tomorrow lot, located near the Flint Entrance to campus. The parking lot has a shuttle service that departs every 10 minutes to Flint Loop.
“I strongly encourage commuters to make it your first choice,” Austin said. “Parking dynamics at UB are not like a grocery store or mall where parking spaces turn over every one to two hours. Once a vehicle is parked at UB, they are typically on campus for four to eight hours.”
On South Campus, the Main and Bailey Parking Lot has approximately 100 spaces open each day, Austin said.
Some students feel this solution is not enough.
“They say there are spots, but in my experience, the available spots are usually really far from most of the classes,” Austin said. “So you have to get their earlier either way.”
Twenty-three percent of students expressed support for better carpool programs, which Austin said has actually waned in past years.
Parking and Transportation returned 55 parking spaces previously reserved for “Carpooling Only” back over to general inventory, according to Austin. Participation in the carpool program dropped from 140 carpools in 2014-2015 to 57 in 2016-2017, leaving the 55 spaces unused.
Students, faculty and staff paid $500,000 in parking fines last year.
Sara Rinehart, a freshman speech pathology major, bought a $180 parking pass for Fargo Lot to avoid the stress of parking. Rinehart feels this pass was worth the convenience.
“My classes start at 2 p.m. everyday, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to find any parking by that time,” Rinehart said. “It’s definitely worth it.”
Sarah Crowley is the senior news editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.