Auxiliary Services is continuing to improve parking and transportation throughout campus to help improve student life. Parking and Transportation Services evaluates parking lots and services approximately every three years, which happens to be sometime this year. During these evaluations, Auxiliary Services and Campus Planning work with professional consultants that come in and determine what parts of the transportation system that will need work in the future.
One area that is constantly on Parking Services’ list of solutions is parking decks. Parking decks would help to increase the amount of parking available throughout campus, but the demand for a parking deck is not great enough to pursue.
“We have a very tight budget in that on average we break even,” said Mark Reeves, Assistant Vice President for Auxiliary Services. “Our entire budget is student, faculty and staff fees. For us to get more money, it comes off student fees.”
With a campus over of 600 acres, Reeves continued by saying that Parking Services does not want to take green space away from the landscaping. Parking lots are seen as transition spaces that may one day become an academic building.
Although parking decks could alleviate parking issues, they are not at the top of the needs list currently in part because of the cost. There are approximately 7,000 parking spots throughout campus to accommodate the close to 12,000 students.
“We want you to be safe and we want things to be convenient,” Reeves continued. “We completely remodeled our parking and transportation system where all the parking is on the perimeter on purpose. The buses are also on the perimeter. We feel like its safer and more convenient for students.”
Because parking is so spread out along the outside of campus, Parking Services has seven buses that travel through campus as well as to some apartments, the Athletic Complex and a shopper shuttle that travels to Wal-Mart, Target and Kroger.
“Available parking and convenient parking aren’t the same thing,” said Ely Elefante, Associate Director for Auxiliary Services.
Two main reasons for why Auxiliary Services is not pushing for parking decks at this time are the cost and the number of cars on campus decreasing. In order to fund parking decks, student fees would need to increase, but at this time, the students’ want for more parking is not great enough to raise those fees.
“We’re trying so hard to keep college affordable,” said Reeves. “We want to continue to work on the handicap accessibility, the bike program and maintaining the parking and transportation that we have.”
According to Reeves, more students are becoming interested in the bike program as well as utilizing mass transit.
“Our apartment shuttle and Wal-Mart shuttle have almost tripled in usage,” Reeves said.
With enrollment continuing to increase, a parking deck will need to be built eventually. Reeves expects when the time comes, potential locations will include the Coliseum parking lot and the valley between the baseball field and the Murphy Building.
“We really try hard to stay in tune to the needs and our capabilities,” Reeves continued. “Where those overlap, that’s really where we try to focus.”