Increased use of commuter permits to authorize overnight parking has resulted in an apparent reduction of parking capacity for use by daily commuter students, said Parking Services manager Dwight Atherton.
Parking Services will be adding additional overnight residential parking to Hilltop Apartments this week and is also evaluating the possibility of converting underutilized Area 2 employee parking spaces into residential parking in D-Lot to alleviate this issue, Atherton said in an email interview Thursday.
“These changes should help reduce the effects of the commuter parking constraints on W-Lot and on the parking areas along Horse Barn Hill Road,” Atherton said. “Although most people think of the University’s parking system as being very static, it morphs and changes very rapidly. Parking Services works to change dynamically to adapt to the needs of all members of our University.”
Student permit sales have increased by 1.36 percent this year to about 9,000, meaning there are about 130 more permitted student vehicles, Atherton said.
Parking services aims for a permit sale ratio of 1.36 permits sold per commuter parking space on the Storrs campus, he said. Alternatively, slightly less than one permit is sold for every available residential parking space, allowing all students with residential permits to park their cars overnight.
While this does not allow all commuter permit holders to park on campus at the same time, Atherton said most college and universities have a commuter permit sale ratio of 2 or higher.
The university doesn’t have information on when commuter students are on campus, but many are known to schedule the majority of their class loads on Tuesdays and Thursday, UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said.
“We do have a lot of parking, the question is just whether it’s in a location where a student wants to be at that point in time,” Reitz said. “I think that’s where the frustration sometimes comes in.”
Harrison Jones, a sixth-semester history and journalism student, said that he sometimes struggles to find parking in X-Lot before his Tuesday and Thursday classes around 11 a.m.
"The lots I park in are closer to the core of campus, so those are coveted spots. So I think that's why there's people circling the parking lot, they want those spaces really badly," Jones said.
Samuel Surowitz, an Off Campus Council commuter senator for the Undergraduate Student Government, said that while he has heard about parking issues, particularly in Y-Lot, students have been more concerned about buses being late or missing stops entirely.
“The parking issue has been an ongoing issue, but this is the first semester I’ve heard about students waiting at stops being passed by the bus,” Surowitz said.
The University of Connecticut’s Master Plan and the Tech Park Master Plan include three new parking garages, however these facilities will largely replace current parking capacity that will be lost to other construction, Atherton said. There is also the possibility of new public transportation options that would reduce the demand for on-campus parking, he said.
There are no short term plans to expand the net amount of parking on campus, Reitz said.
Bill Roe, co-founder of the Mansfield Neighborhood Preservation Group, said that the growth in single-family student rentals has significantly increased the number of UConn student vehicles in the area.
"It seems that students drive differently from us 50, 60 and 70-year-olds. We've gotten so that when we have the grandkids here we can't even let them in the front yard. We used to let them go and skateboard down the road but we really can't let them anywhere close,” Roe said.
Roe said that the rentals on his street often house three or more students who all appear to drive to school individually instead of carpooling or walking to the bus stop nearby. He said that while more public transportation might help reduce UConn’s carbon footprint, he doesn’t think enough students would use it to justify the impact on Mansfield neighborhoods.
“In Connecticut, and especially rural Connecticut, people are very mobile and I don't think people are going to be giving up their cars,” Roe said.
The best way for UConn to mitigate its impact on Mansfield’s environment and roadways would be to house more students on campus instead of pushing them into surrounding communities, Roe said.
Kimberly Armstrong is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.