Whether it’s UConn students complaining of receiving tickets from parking services, or not being able to find any spots in the lots of their respective purchased permits, parking (or lack thereof) remains a problem for students throughout the semester. Difficulty finding parking is known to result in tardiness to classes and other obligations. This difficulty is beyond simple individual culpability; It is systemic and the result of a shortage of parking for a growing commuter population and growing student population overall. Students paying high prices for such permits should be guaranteed available parking. Most recently, according to a Daily Campus report by Kimberly Armstrong, daily commuter students particularly have faced a reduction in parking capacity due to increased use of authorized commuter overnight parking – taking up many available spaces they could otherwise use.
Fortunately, UConn has recently announced a plan to attempt to alleviate this problem. To provide space for this authorized overnight parking without continuing to inhibit daily commuter students, parking services will move to allow additional overnight parking in the lot surrounding the Hilltop Apartment Complex. This will be made possible, without affecting current students using the Hilltop lots, by converting underutilized Area 2 employee parking spaces.
This conversion of spaces is an example of creative problem solving by UConn’s Parking Services department. However, it does not address the underlying problem that there is simply not enough parking available for students. It is unclear how parking services plans to address this in the short term. Such remedies seem reactionary, taking place weeks into the semester. According to Armstrong’s report, the sale of student permits has increased by 1.36 percent this year, which is roughly 130 more permitted student vehicles. With over a one-to-one ratio of permits to available spots to begin with, the university had to have expected this problem.
This problem will only be exacerbated in the future. Although the University Master Plan includes the construction of three new parking garages, the garages largely are designed to compensate for lost parking, rather than provide much more. Parking services should continue to explore the option of converting underutilized parking spaces as a potential remedy, while remaining cognizant of longer-term constraints.