Despite the many positive aspects of living in a vibrant, growing metropolis such as Austin, every Austinite knows that getting on Mopac Expressway between the hours of 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. without necessity is a fatal mistake, and finding affordable and convenient parking on campus is just as frustrating. Even though our campus and city bus systems are getting better, students are not immune to parking problems and many are rightfully fed up with UT’s parking garage policies.
Particularly frustrating? The on-campus garage rule that UT “reserve[s] the right to relocate permit holders as needed.” More specifically, in order for students to purchase a parking spot, they must sign a contract agreeing that they will move their cars out of their purchased parking spots when the University needs more spaces for its visitors and events. The University’s strategy of “double booking” its students’ parking spaces is insulting considering the amount of money students are being asked to pay to reserve the spaces in the first place.
College Prowler, an online company that offers current UT students ratings of different aspects of their school, grades UT’s parking a C-, UT’s lowest grade out of all of the ratable categories. Our own University’s website paints no rosier a picture: the transportation services website says that “Parking on [the UT] campus is a very critical commodity. There are about 14,000 parking spaces...to satisfy the multiple daily requirements for the 70,000 staff, faculty, students, and visitors...to accommodate the maximum number of customers, PTS strives to use spaces and lots for multiple purposes.” With parking for only 23 percent of the UT population, students are bound to find frustration in this ordinary task. But the University doesn’t have to make it more frustrating with their needless relocation rules.
Psychology freshman Jared Hahne parks his car in Trinity Garage.
“It’s annoying that the University is charging me more than $700 for a parking spot this year,” Hahne said. “On top of that, they make me move my car to another garage about twice a week so that they can charge other people to use my parking spot that I’m already paying for, in order to make even more money. I mean, I understand that there’s limited space, but I’m paying a lot of money for convenience, and moving my car twice a week is not convenient in any way.”
The 2011-2012 annual report posted on the transportation services website explains that the average student parking garage spot costs between $677 and $743, and the University brings in between $16 and $17 million in parking revenue annually. Obviously, revenue is an essential aspect to running a successful University, but parking rates are becoming unfair and excessive, especially considering how inconvenient parking on campus has become. I, too, park my car in Trinity Garage, and am constantly bombarded with emails asking me to relocate my car. It is unfair to pay close to a thousand dollars for a semi-permanent parking spot.
To make matters worse, students who have to relocate their cars to temporary garages are sometimes fined for where they relocate their cars to.
“When I comply with the University’s rules and move my car to another garage that is not even mine and not what I am paying for, I am punished for not parking on the correct floor of the temporary garage, and I received a ticket,” Hahne said. “How am I supposed to know the rules of each temp garage when they’re not explicitly told to me?”
When transportation services Director Bobby Stone was asked multiple times about student parking policies and new garage construction, he said he “should be able to have some answers” but never replied further.
As both Austin and UT expand, it is time for the University to revamp its student parking garage policy. Even though there may not be an obvious solution to this feat, it is clear that more garages are needed to accommodate students in the way that they deserve, and non-student parking spaces are needed to house visitors for special events.
Triolo is a journalism freshman from Hollister, Calif.