Countless vehicles aimlessly circle the parking lots of the UAA campus like sharks in search of prey, only their prey is a simple 19 by 8-foot parking spot. Students, visitors and professors continually deal with the agony of parking on UAA’s campus. There a few things to consider about what makes parking at UAA so difficult though, and how the school’s Parking Services department is attempting to fix these challenges.
UAA faces a challenge that many university campuses across the nation do not face – UAA is a commuter campus. A commuter campus simply stated means that the majority of students at UAA don’t live on campus or even close to campus, instead they commute in for classes then commute out to return home. This results in a large amount of vehicles during class hours and relatively vacant lots during non-class hours.
All UAA parkers are required to purchase a campus parking permit. Parking permit costs range from $50-$250 during fall and spring semesters. The cost of these permits covers the building and maintenance of parking lots and parking garages, including snow removal and much of the grounds functions like sanding, bike path maintenance, Seawolf shuttle, People Mover, Valley Mover passes and Zimride, according to the Parking Services associate director Falon Harkins.
These costs are also covered with the $13 student transportation fee which “supports campus shuttle service, U-Pass People Mover Program (citywide bus pass), bicycle racks, trail/sidewalk maintenance and Call Team walking services.”
Harkins stressed that the money collected from the student transportation fee does not account for enough money to make up for the needs, so revenue from parking permits supplements those costs. UAA Parking Services is still struggling to make ends meet for these services, however.
“There will be an increase to parking permit prices beginning in the fall of 2016 (FY17),” Glenna Muncy, UAA parking services director, said.
Permit prices have not been raised since the 2009 fall semester.
“Parking Services will be tasked with funding the full cost of the Seawolf Shuttle operations and fleet beginning in FY17 so an increase is unavoidable to maintain the current level of service,” Muncy said.
This cost is associated with the budget cuts facing the parking services department next year.
UAA parking services Glenna Muncy also wanted to push the fact that even though permit prices are rising this fall they are staying competitive with industry averages. Depending on the permit you purchase keep in mind that a $36.50 raise in cost this fall is only ten cents a day more.
UAA is not simply jacking up the cost of permits without attempting to give the students something back though. As efforts such as a mobile app for pay and park services to drivers are in the works for the fall semester. Also a new garage will be opening this fall offering about 500 additional parking spots to students. If these spots are too far away from your classes, the shuttle should also be offering new stops from certain lots and new garages to accommodate students.
“We are also exploring ways to provide students flexibility by offering a garage pass that would allow access to any garage similar to the way the annual yellow pass currently allows access to any surface lot,” Muncy said. “The details haven’t been finalized yet, but the idea is to allow drivers the option to choose between covered garage parking or surface lot parking for different prices,” Muncy said.
While many believe parking violation citations may make up most of UAA Parking Services revenue, the tickets account for very little of their budget.
“The funds from citations are generally not substantial making a small portion of the parking budget in comparison to permit sales,” Harkins, said. “It is also not constant, so revenue from citations is difficult to budget. Normally it pays for unforeseen costs that arise in the year, like repairing potholes or replacing signage.”
UAA Parking Services’ job is working to develop safe and effective ways to improve the lots despite serious budget cuts looming over their heads.
Parking Services also offers other services that Amhad J. Nichols, the Enforcement Supervisor at UAA, would like the students of UAA to be aware of whether they park on campus or not.
“We do vehicle unlocks if you lock your keys in your car, vehicle jump starts and safety escorts across campus,” Nichols said.
These services are carried out through the use of the University Police Department, a chunk of which is also funded by the purchase of a parking permit, according to Harkins.
Many students may still ask why they even need to purchase parking permits for a school they already pay large amounts to for an education. Keep in mind that most places you park although they do not require parking permits, acquire that same money through percentages of sales associated with the businesses.