To most college students, apart from academics, there are two near-universal worries: Getting across campus and getting fed. What started as a simple program that read off dining hall menus for a UConn student and his roommates has grown to include a bus tracker and is now a “skill” available to Amazon Alexa users.
The first week of the 2019 fall semester has officially begun. Students from across the nation have successfully made the trip to the Nutmeg State’s top public university. Everyone is moved in, textbooks have arrived, classes have begun and, as per usual, parking issues have provided new acquaintances a common grievance to bond over.
Lots X, N and L will be lost to the construction, and these spaces will be closed as early as Spring 2020, at which point commuters will be redirected to the new lot, according to UConn Today. The new K-Lot will contain 700 spaces, 200 less than the total for the other lots, and will be located roughly a mile from the center of campus on Discovery Drive.
A 700-spot parking lot is under construction on Discovery Drive across from the University of Connecticut’s Innovation Partnership building, according to UConn Today, with the aim to replace over 900 spaces that will be lost as the NextGen Science Complex builds over the lots located near North Garage.
Our recent negotiation of affordable Area 2 and Commuter permits has not improved our overall access to parking at UConn, nor is it the cause of the current chaos.
Many students are aware that UConn adjusted its parking structure and shuttle bus routes for the fall semester.
Although it might seem like these changes were made randomly, a number of considerations were factored in, including employment contracts, student safety, vehicle congestion and construction.
We now realize that the way these changes were communicated to our students could have and should have been better. However, we are confident that these adjustments have improved parking and transportation services for the student body as a whole.
We will be meeting with students this week to further discuss the issues, as well as holding few more meetings though this semester with a group of students as mechanisms to improve communication.
Graduate assistants were allowed to buy staff parking permits for the first time this year as part of their new labor contract with the University. This prompted the need to adjust some areas that were previously used for student parking to be reassigned for other uses.
However, there was no loss in the number of student parking spaces on campus.
The perception that there was a decrease in student parking comes from the reassignment of spaces and the restriction of overnight parking in commuter lots, which was done to ensure parking access to students who truly travel to and from campus each day.
In terms of the new bus routes, we are evaluating ridership counts and bus tracking technologies to improve the experiences of our customers and the accuracy of our data.
Another element in determining the new bus routes was to minimize traffic in the area of Jim Calhoun Way and Hillside Road, which can be a very congested and dangerous intersection. In addition to having fewer buses in that area, we also encourage all Facilities Operations employees not to drive vehicles in that area.
Finally, it’s important to understand the long-range traffic planning that has taken place. We have eliminated the left turn from North Eagleville Road onto Glenbrook Road with exceptions for emergency vehicles and service deliveries. In the future, the entrance/exit of the North Garage also needs to be reconfigured along with the intersection of Alumni Drive and Hillside Road to allow for better traffic flow.
Thank you for your patience and understanding. If you have any questions or comments relating to this topic, please feel free to contact us.
Associate Vice President of Facilities Operations
The first two weeks of the semester have been overtaken by discussion among students regarding parking and on-campus transportation concerns.
The shuttle bus service has had its routes altered and on-campus parking has been redesigned/reallocated. All shuttle bus routes were altered in one way or another – these changes were made in accordance with the reduction of commuter spots in some parking lots and the increase of commuter spots in other areas. The primary student concerns regarding the bus system include: bus availability to commuter lots, the lack of routes connecting highly populated residential areas to distinct parts of campus, and the reliability of the bus schedules/timeliness.
On-campus parking was also altered in one way or another – these changes were made to address anticipated construction and road closures on campus, the overnight use of commuter lots by residents living on and off campus, and the changes in faculty, staff, administration, and graduate student parking privileges.
As students, we have every right to be frustrated with something, vocalize concerns regarding that something, and act to change that something – this is what is so great about the democratic process. It is clear that the University made a series of mistakes that began with changing the transportation on campus without consulting the undergraduate student population and ended with neglecting to adequately inform us of these changes.
All is not critical however; I would like to emphasize the fact that it is very clear that UConn administrators did not make these decisions with the intent of wreaking havoc on the lives of students - even someone as radical as myself can understand why such an assumption would be illogical. These changes were made with good intentions and it is our responsibility as students to vocalize why we see the changes as flawed.
According to a survey of UConn undergraduate and graduate students conducted by USG over the course of two days (n=390), 97.4% of respondents either agree or strongly agree that there is a need for a comprehensive transportation services reform on campus. In response to data presented, the USG Senate has agreed upon “A Joint Resolution Concerning UConn Transportation Services” to advocate students vocalizing their concerns regarding UConn Transportation Services.
Moving forward, USG will host a Transportation Services public forum on Wednesday, September 12th in McHugh 101 at 6:00 PM. Administrators, including the VP of Facilities Operations and the Director of Parking Services will be present to field questions by students.
Public Relations Director
Undergraduate Student Government
SU Rm. 219 2110 Hillside Rd Unit 3008 Storrs, CT 06269-3008
The demands of the student body to Transportation Services are two-fold: transparency in all operations executed by Transportation Services and improved access to transportation services needed by students.
1. The student body demands full transparency for the work done by Transportation Services. This includes, but is not limited to:
a. Data collected by Transportation Services, used to influence decisions that will in turn, affect the student body.
b. Finances associated with parking services, specifically with regards to parking tickets and parking permits.
c. Factors leading to the decisions made by Transportation Services.
d. Information collected using survey’s, research, and other internal investigations.
2. The student body demands the following adjustments, revisions, and/or corrections be made to the current Transportation Services plans.
a. Review and revise the allocation of Area 1, Area 2, and Commuter parking lots. WHY? There should be a fair distribution of the parking lot types throughout campus. Enforcing some lots as only Area 2 shows a preference for a specific UConn demographic (i.e. professor, graduate student, undergraduate) – if UConn truly is a “walking campus”, there should be few exceptions made for priority parking. Creating lots with half Area 2 and half Commuter complicates traffic patterns and statistically increases the amount of time needed to look for a parking spot.
b. Reduce time restrictions on non-residential parking spots in accordance with peak traffic hours, late night traffic, and other traffic patterns. WHY? Students are unable to keep their cars on campus for occasional use such as going home or shopping.
c. Review and revise the bus lines in accordance with student feedback (collected transparently). WHY? The bus lines do not adequately connect points of campus frequently traversed by students.
d. Enforce rigidly followed bus schedules that meet the criteria outlined on the Transportation Services website (e.g. bus comes every 10 minutes). WHY? An overwhelming number of students have reported giving up waiting for a bus and being late for class as a result of buses not showing up when they should.
e. Reintroduce Husky Rides program (or analogous initiative) for on-campus rides late at night. WHY? Many students report feeling unsafe walking across campus late at night – students have a right to have resources that will allow them to feel safe on their University campus.
f. Expand the quantity of UPASS’s made available for students, in accordance with state plans for improving inter-state transportation services. WHY? Many students are reporting that Transportation Services has run out of UPASS’s to give out to students – every student pays a transportation fee and as part of CT’s initiative to reduce pollution and increase accessibility, they all have a right to a UPASS.
g. Create short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (3-5 years) plan for increasing commuter, A2, and resident parking. WHY? Soon to begin construction projects that will take away parking need to be preemptively addressed to prevent additional parking issues in the future.
These demands will be addressed during the forum on Wednesday, September 12th at 6:00 PM in McHugh Hall 101. They will subsequently be discussed and worked on in a smaller group setting with Transportation Services throughout the semester.
Several commuter parking lots have been converted into Area 2 staff and faculty parking, effective for the 2018/19 school year. In late May 2018, University of Connecticut graduate assistants and teachers assistants gained access to Area 2 parking in their new contract, according to UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz.