Consultant Hired to Address UB's Perpetual Parking Problems



The lack of convenient parking, particularly in the vicinity of the academic spine on UB's North Campus, is an oft-repeated complaint of commuters, much discussed but not yet resolved to student satisfaction.

In an attempt to tackle what some students see as a chronic problem, representatives from a consulting service, hired by the university to study the campus parking situation this semester, solicited feedback from commuter students at a meeting held last Thursday.

Chance Management Advisors, a Philadelphia-based consulting service specializing in parking and road access research and solutions, held a focus group session for students wishing to discuss the problem of parking on campus. The session was part of a study commissioned by administrators to determine the roots of UB's parking troubles and possible ways to alleviate commuting hassles.

Approximately 25 commuter students joined CMA-founder Barbara Chance and consultant Joe Sciulli in a discussion of the firm's findings on UB's transportation hardships. The students in attendance were more than willing to detail their own personal parking woes.

"I think that parking is a symptom of a much larger sickness at UB," said Geoff Duran, a senior majoring in cognitive science. "The lack of concern for commuters disappoints me."

Topics discussed included the difficulty of parking during the peak hours of 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and disappointment with the university's alleged lack of attention to the thorny issue of parking.

Chance presented a host of possible ways to mend UB's parking situation, ranging from the simple designation of commuter-only lots to constructing elevated parking garages on campus. According to Chance, an elevated parking garage would be "ten times as expensive as a standard, ground level parking area."

She suggested an elevated lot would require a "pay-to-park" method, due to the cost of maintenance and building expenses. The research group must also determine if building an elevated garage is feasible "financially and in terms of space available."

Commuter-only and carpool-only solutions both would require gated lots to prevent abuse by other students. Duran and other vocal students felt such a solution is long overdue at UB.

"[UB] won't give commuters commuter-only passes," said Duran. "No one knows why they won't either."

Others voiced concern that UB's priority in constructing new residential and academic buildings could eliminate possibilities for future parking solutions.

"Whenever they build a building, they might take away spots," said John Lifetes, a junior communication major. "Like with Flint, a lot of spots were taken away when it was built. Not that I dislike new apartments, but I think parking needs more consideration."

Chance felt that a card-swipe policy for entry into a parking lot, one used by many other large universities, should be considered when and if a parking solution is enacted by UB. Such a policy would enable UB to program a student's UB card with their status as either a resident or commuting student, and an automated gate at each parking lot entrance could permit or prevent access accordingly.

Other commuter students at the meeting were very open about their disappointment with on-campus parking for commuters.

David DelValle, a chemical engineering senior, lives two miles from UB. "That's closer than some on-campus students. And it still takes me a half-hour to find a spot unless it's before 9 a.m.," he said.

CMA will conduct an anonymous parking survey among UB students on its Web site, http://www.chancemanagement.com, from Nov. 12 to Dec. 19. The survey will give CMA a broader sampling of a larger problem in order to arrive at a comprehensive, universally acceptable solution.

"Take the survey so we know what you want," said Chance. "It's the only way we can know for sure."