Bobby Stone has worked for UT’s Parking and Transportation Services for 26 years. As the director, he is responsible for overseeing all transportation operations, including campus parking, shuttle buses and maintenance of all University vehicles. Stone sat down with The Daily Texan to discuss the current state of parking at the University, common parking complaints and what he is doing to address these issues.
The Daily Texan: What are the most common complaints you hear about parking on campus?
Bobby Stone: Having to pay to park. One of the biggest misconceptions is that we get funding from tuition or get funding from the state, and we don’t. All our funding is derived from the people who use our service ... All we’re asking is that people who actually use the service help pay to support it. We do set the service up in such a way that we only collect up the amount of money that we need to pay our bills and break even. We have some pretty big expenses in order to provide parking for everyone.
DT: UT has close to 75,000 students, faculty and staff but has 15,875 parking spaces available. Do you think it’s valid to say UT has limited parking on campus?
Stone: I would tell you that is a misconception. We have run the University with about 15,000 to 16,000 parking spaces for about the last 10 years. Thirty-five percent of our students come to school in a single-occupant vehicle. When you compare that to the city of Austin, its number is 75 percent of the people. So [having only 35 percent of students do that] is a really good thing, and that helps us a lot.
DT: Why do you think students complain about parking availability then?
Stone: I think really what the issue is, it’s not so much that we don’t have enough spaces, because on any given day I can show 300 or 400 spaces that are open on campus that people can use. But the spaces we have are not really in the place students want them to be. They’re not the most convenient spaces, and there’s not a whole lot I can do about that.
DT: How do you ensure all parking spaces on campus are used as efficiently as possible?
Stone: What we do is we go out and do lot counts, especially on the most utilized lots. We make sure that the number of parking permits we issue back to a lot is one that allows it to stay full and yet not be so full that people can’t find a place to park. We are also looking at some new technology that is out there that will put some counters on lots. With these you will be able to go and access an application on a smartphone, and it will tell you if spaces were available on that particular lot when you were coming.
DT: What are your recommendations for students having trouble with parking on campus?
Stone: Don’t let your first thought be, ‘jump in the car and drive down here.’ Look at the bus, look at the bikes, look at carpools. UT has an excellent carpooling program, and to be honest, not many students take advantage of it. We also tell you that on those days that you have to come to campus, you should just give yourself a little bit more time and go to the Longhorn Lot. It’s much easier to park there, but you’re going to have to ride the shuttle across.
Printed on October 26, 2012 as: PTS director shares insight