UA Parking and Transportation Services has an excess of parking permits available for the fall 2009 semester.
For the past two years, PTS has been unable to sell all the available parking permits because students are taking advantage of various alternate transportation programs offered on campus.
""We have over 1,000 permits still available at a prorated price,"" said Bill Davidson, marketing manager for Parking and Transportation Services, ""but students are just not driving as much as they used to.""
Davidson cites fluctuating gas prices, recent lot closures and students looking into alternate transportation as reasons for the decline in permit purchases.
""We started to see less permits sold once gas prices reached $3 a gallon a couple of summers ago,"" said Davidson.
Currently, Parking and Transportation offers numerous services for students who choose not to drive to campus. Most notably, the Sun Tran U-Pass — a discounted bus pass — has become a top seller in the past year, edging out sales of parking permits. Sales of the U-Pass increased by 25.8 percent during the 2008-09 school year compared to 2007-08 figures, according to data collected by Parking and Transportation.
Other alternative transportation services provided by Parking and Transportation include the Rideshare program, in which students can join a carpooling group to get to campus; the Cat Tran Shuttle, which services 45 off-campus stops on five fixed routes around campus; and ""Park and Ride"" lots, where students park their vehicles off campus and take a shuttle to the UA.
Another cheap alterative for getting around campus without a car is riding a bicycle. Shops like Bargain Basement Bikes, located on Park Avenue, have seen an increase in bike sales in the past two years.
""We've sold one-third more bikes this past August when compared to last year"" said Duane Barnes, owner of Bargain Basement Bikes. ""Sales for recreational bikes have slowed down because students are opting for commuter bikes.""
Demand for motorized and electric bikes has also increased around campus, according to Daniel Manheim, owner of Tucson Electric Bikes, located on University Boulevard. While the price range for these bikes can be $500 to $2,500, it's not deterring people from purchasing them.
""We get a lot of parents buying electric bikes for their kids when they first come to college,"" said Manheim. ""In the long run, it's cheaper than owning a car.""
Even with all the cost-effective alternatives to owning a car and buying a parking permit, some students choose to rely on an age-old method for getting around: walking.
""I choose to walk because of my proximity to campus,"" said Charlie Golestani, a journalism senior. ""Why spend money on a bike when my own two feet can get me where I need to go?""