UConn Parking Services has discussed potential increases to fines and the implementation of self-release booting mechanisms in the wake of rising parking difficulties.
Right now, Associate Director of Logistics Andy Kelly said that the biggest problem facing parking services is the dramatic rise of people parking without a permit.
“So on Tuesdays and Thursdays, we’re going to have about 270 citations a day on the main campus, just here, not the regionals. And of those 40% don’t have a permit. They’re just taking their chances. And we never saw that pre-COVID. Last year, we were like, ‘What is this?’ and this year, it’s even worse. And so that’s a struggle for us to wrap our heads around,” Kelly said.
The large amount of people parking without a permit is making parking much more difficult for students with a permit, Kelly noted. In recent weeks, South Garage and the on-campus apartment parking areas have been particularly hit hard.
Despite increased parking enforcement and the discussion of increasing fines in hopes of deterring people from parking without a permit, Kelly said that tickets continue to rise.
“We are talking about trying to raise our fines. A lot of folks say, your fines are high enough and if you compare them to Hartford, we’re pretty in line with precedent. But it doesn’t seem to be deterring people. And we expected it to get better this year. We have increased enforcement presence from the start of the academic year this year compared to last year. And it’s actually the other way around, more people decided it’s just okay to not buy a permit and take their chances and get a ticket. So it’s been a strange, really unexpected thing,” Kelly said.
Kelly said that while they may raise ticket fines in the future to help mitigate this problem, UConn Parking Services does not rely on that revenue to fund parking operations.
“Our goal is to encourage good behavior. So if our enforcement officers only write five tickets a day, because everybody’s following the rules, that’s the best case scenario for me. We can get by even though parking is 100% self-funded, and we don’t get any central funding from the university. And so permit sales and ticket revenue are our only means of maintaining the lots and the garages, and paying for the enforcement program. So if we get five tickets a day because people are following the rules, we can reduce enforcement. That’s a huge win for us because the administrative burden of maintaining the program at the level like we do today, we don’t win… no one wins,” Kelly stated.
UConn Parking Services is also considering the implementation of other deterrence methods such as self-release booting mechanisms. While Kelly said this implementation is far off, talks have started with the company PayLock to obtain these “self-release booting” devices.
When deployed on the tire of a car, the device is unable to be removed until the car owner scans the code with their phone, pays the fine and receives a release code. After the device is removed, it would have to be dropped off somewhere on campus.
Kelly has also said that the construction of the new South Campus residence hall has had an impact on staff parking and will have an even larger effect as the year continues.
“Right now, the construction is taking a fairly small number in the bigger picture of staff spots. There’s currently almost zero student parking spots affected by the construction. And that will generally continue, but there’s going to be a much more significant impact to staff spots around mid-October,” Kelly said. “And that’s pretty problematic. We have reached out on the staff side and we’ve reached out to the town of Mansfield to ask if we can get folks a discounted rate at the downtown Storrs garage. And we’ve had a few people take us up on that.”