Dennis Delaney

Because of Dell Medical School construction, the University removed hundreds of “C” parking spots in lots near the Frank Erwin Center and School of Social Work, causing frustration among some commuting students as they returned to campus for the spring semester.

According to UTPD spokeswoman Cindy Posey, Lot 108, south of the Erwin Center, lost approximately 290 spots at the end of the fall semester. All of Lot 80, near the social work building, is being used to construct a chilling station for the Dell Medical School complex, Posey said.

“About 200 spaces will be returned to this lot at the completion of the project,” Posey said. “The parking needs when these spaces return will dictate the designation for these spaces, but I am certain that student parking will be a part of the mix.”

Austin Hill, mechanical engineering senior, said students who commute to campus often have difficulty finding a place to park.

“Today, I drove around for almost 10 minutes in circles waiting for a spot to open up — along with about five other cars,” Hill said. “And, sometimes when you find a spot, it’s a carpool spot, which I didn’t know was a thing until I got a ticket for it last Thursday.”

Hill said he used to park in Lot 80, but, because of the closure, he now tries to park mainly in Lot 70, just north of the closed-off area. Hill said he does not park in the lots east of I-35 because of how far they are from his classes. If he can’t find an open spot, Hill said he just pays to park on the streets around campus.

Dennis Delaney, operations manager for Parking and Transportation Services, said there are a sufficient number of empty parking spaces east of I-35.

“Before Lot E was closed on any given day, we had anywhere from 200 to 300 empty spaces on the other side of I-35,” Delaney said. “We’re still finding those locations empty — not as many as before, but there are still empty spaces that can accommodate people with a ‘C’ permit.”

Delaney said the parking services department has sold 2,264 “C” permits and 1,635 “C+” permits over the course of this academic year.

“Basically, we sell as the demand is there, so, if people are asking for them, we’ll sell them,” Delaney said.

English senior Heather French said she does not regret purchasing her “C+” permit, but she is still frustrated with her
parking situation.

“The PTS site makes it sound like parking across 35 is an easy option, when, in reality, the bus system is so unreliable that one has to plan a ton of time for taking the bus, which is not a viable alternative,” French said. 

The University is building a new parking garage near the site of the new medical school in order to make up for lost spaces, Posey said.

“The garage will have 100-plus spaces, and it will serve the medical school district, including students,” Posey said. “The overall net gain for parking spaces on campus because of the Dell Medical School will be about 600-plus spaces.”

Delaney said the new parking spaces at the medical school garage will be accessible to all students.

“At the medical school, the only people who are probably going to want to park over there are the nursing school students and medical school students, so the demand that’s there from them is what’s going to drive how popular that garage is,” Delaney said.

PTS officials say a new University parking plan for more parking garages will result in fewer citations.

Photo Credit: Griffin Smith | Daily Texan Staff

Parking and Transportation Services officials say they anticipate a reduction in the number of parking citations they issue over the next few years because of a plan to address the University’s parking assets and reduce surface parking spots on campus.

Bob Harkins, associate vice president for campus safety and security, told The Daily Texan last week that, under the 2012 Campus Master Plan — which outlines development of the University campus for the next 30 years — the University intends to construct buildings on current surface parking lots, creating the need for the construction of more parking garages. PTS is also planning to propose increased parking costs to help fund the new parking garages, he said. 

Dennis Delaney, PTS events/operations manager, said PTS has already seen a decrease in parking citations, as more buildings and projects have taken up parking spaces over the past few years, and he anticipates seeing a further decrease with the implemented parking plan.

“As parking spaces are more concentrated, this would limit the number of locations that a violation can occur,” Delaney said.

Delaney could not provide an average number of daily citations, but he said the department issued 37,923 citations last year.

According to Delaney, failing to pay a meter and failing to display a valid permit are the two most commonly issued citations, with some areas around campus more prone to citations than others.

“The meters off University [and San Jacinto] Boulevard have a high concentration of citations,” Delaney said.

According to UTPD spokeswoman Cindy Posey, UTPD does not issue parking citations but can issue criminal citations for violations of University parking and traffic regulations. 

One type of citation UTPD can issue is called a “University citation,” and the other is a court appearance ticket, according to the PTS website. PTS collects the money from University citations, while fees from court appearance tickets are sent over to the Justice of the Peace in Precinct 5.

UTPD statistics show UTPD officers issued 420 warning, parking or moving citations last year. 

Harkins said parking citations account for 6 percent of PTS’ overall revenue. 

According to PTS director Bobby Stone, PTS is a self-funded auxiliary department of the University, which means that no faculty or staff salaries or tuition dollars go toward supporting the parking system.