UA Parking and Transportation Services have far more changes to make

Anyone who parks on campus regularly knows how frustrating it can be.

Parking in a UA lot means driving around for what seems like an eternity, looking for a spot and dealing with drivers who pull into spots while using the white lines as a mere suggestion. There’s even a price tag on it; permits can cost up to $600 per year.

Parking and Transportation Services at the UA has aimed to solve some of these problems with a series of changes scheduled to go into effect this upcoming year.

Their solutions include creating more lot-specific permits, rather than issuing passes that cover larger areas. This is intended to help people find parking more easily, while cutting down on traffic and providing a solution for students who complained that they were afraid to leave campus during the day because they could lose their spot.

In addition to these changes, permit prices will increase slightly (again), with most permits going up by $1 per month.

There are seven lots which will be converting from Zone 1 to lot-specific permits. For the 2013-2014 academic year, Zone 1 permits will cost $390. Lot-specific permits? $500. Increasing the security of spots for those who park on campus is a worthwhile goal, but a Zone 1 permit inherently comes with more freedoms than a lot-specific permit. There is simply a greater choice of lots in which to park.

While some of these changes seem to be a step in the right direction, there’s a glaring omission of changes to the parking garages on campus. Bill Davidson, the marketing manager for PTS, confirmed that parking in garages will remain mostly unchanged.

As someone who has held multiple permits for multiple garages, and who parks in a garage almost every day, I know from experience that there are issues with garage parking that PTS is not addressing.

Currently, there are caps for the amount of visitors allowed in a garage, which vary from garage to garage, in order to accommodate permit holders. This cap should be lowered.

Even if there are spots available for permit holders, when garages fill up that means most of these spots are on the roof of the garage. The main reason that I pay for a garage permit is so I can avoid parking my car in the hot Arizona sun, making parking on the roof rather pointless.

Poor parking jobs can be inconvenient in lots, but they can be even more so in garages. Stricter enforcement in the garages should be implemented.

Currently, PTS regulations define “Improper Parking” as: “Parking a vehicle in a manner that prevents another vehicle from using an adjacent legal space or occupying to spaces with one vehicle.” This violation carries with it a $35 fine. Raising the fine for double or other improper parking, or simply increased application of these fines, could be a solution.

One badly parked car can create a ripple effect, so that the whole row of cars is parked at an odd angle, or it can essentially eliminate a spot altogether. Nothing is more frustrating than seeing that one perfect empty spot only to find that it is blocked by someone’s bumper.

Davidson said that while parking enforcement officials do patrol looking for violators, he also stressed the involvement of drivers on campus to report problematic parkers.

“Some of it’s going to be our folks going out and making sure these things are taken care of, and also I think a little bit of it is the public letting us know if there’s a problem,” said Davidson. “We’ll be very responsive to it.”

Parking garages are not designed for full-size pickup trucks or other large vehicles, yet every day I have to dodge around a massive truck jutting into the aisle of the garage. This is dangerous for other drivers in the garages, because drivers could have to swerve around a truck, and combined with the blind spot that these vehicles already create for other drivers, this can lead to accidents. PTS already requires registration information for vehicles that hold permits, so why not charge large vehicles a premium?

Davidson acknowledged that large vehicles in garages is an issue.

“I know that’s always a challenge,” he said. “That’s not a bad idea, maybe we could do something different with that.”

Another aspect of campus garages that should be addressed is the cashier’s station. Replacing or supplementing the cashier with pay stations, similar to those found in some lots on campus, should be considered.

This would be much more convenient. Pay lots on campus don’t have a cashier sitting there waiting to take your money. While cashiers serve a useful purpose of addressing drivers’ parking concerns and problems, pay stations would greatly alleviate the lines at the garages. Davidson said that while pay stations in garages is something that is being considered in the future, it will not be implemented soon.

The changes that PTS has planned for the upcoming year show that they have the driver in mind, which is refreshing on a relatively car-unfriendly campus. Yet if PTS truly wants to improve the experience of those who park on campus, then they should aim for further-reaching changes, as well as set their sights on the parking garages.