By: Bob Browand
In addition to the new parking permit rates that were announced a few weeks ago, the UH community can expect a number of changes when it comes to parking and transportation services on campus next academic year.
Anyone who stopped by our parking roadshows in the Student Center South and Student Center Satellite over the last few weeks got the chance to get a sneak peek at everything we have in the works including new permit types, additional shuttles stops and reallocated parking lots, but for everyone who missed us, here’s a breakdown of the biggest things coming your way this fall.
CAMPUS LOT CHANGES
"Economy" Lots to ERP
My team and I will be completing the second phase of a process we started last year to transition all economy lots from the main campus to ERP.
Part of our ten-year plan, we started this process during the fall of 2015 when we realized our parking structure needed to be simplified and updated to better support the campus’s changing physical infrastructure and growing student body.
When the currently existing economy lots were created, they were located away from campus buildings and key access points; however, thanks to nearly a decade of growth and expansion under Dr. Khator, the UH of today is a far cry from what it was back in 2008 and our lot classifications needed to be revisited to ensure our faculty, staff and students were receiving the true market value of the parking permits they purchased.
While initially this might seem like a negative change and that we're pushing parking further away from central University buildings and facilities, it will actually help improve the overall parking climate on campus by allowing us to better manage oversell rates for each permit type. Plus, there are roughly 500 spaces at ERP that go unused every day, so this new model will ensure we are maximizing the space we have available to us.
It will also help decrease the confusion that currently exists surrounding where certain lots end and others begin because essentially there will be three main tiers for ungated surface lot parking – Faculty/Staff lots, Student lots and Remote Campus (ERP) lots.
Granted there are still the special sections such as visitor areas, loading zones, fire lanes, reserved spaces and gated lots to consider, but the bulk of parking lot options will fall into one of those categories mentioned above.
"New" Ungated Lots
Speaking of faculty/staff parking, there will be two "new" faculty/staff ungated parking lots added to campus this coming August.
I am using the term "new" loosely, as these areas, indicated with the teal stars on the map below, are existing lots 21B and 9B that are currently open to individuals who hold either a Student or Economy permit, respectively.
Adjusted Enforcement Policy
To ensure this change in lot designation does not put our students at a disadvantage, we will be adjusting a portion of our enforcement policy that currently allows faculty/staff ungated permit holders to “park down.” This means that beginning at the start of the new academic year, individuals with an ungated f/s permit will be allowed to park in only faculty/staff ungated lots.
This revision to our enforcement policy should help improve the parking situation for all of our permit holders.
The Future of Lot 6A
It's important for our faculty/staff ungated parkers to also be aware of the Quadrangle Housing Replacement project, a Student Housing and Residential Life initiative that calls for the demolition and subsequent recreation of the existing Quadrangle housing complex, located in the Residential District.
While that is an exciting project for the campus, it has raised some concerns and questions about the future of ungated faculty/staff lot 6A, located in the area.
At this time, we unfortunately have no firm details to share about how parkers might be impacted by this undertaking, but we want to assure everyone that it is on our radar and we are currently exploring alternative options. The additional ungated lots 9B and 21B are one way we're aiming to increase access for individuals who may be affected by this project, but regularly check our Traffic Alerts and Lot Closures page for more information and updates.
NEW PERMIT TYPES
Remote Campus Permit (formerly known as Economy)
To better represent that all existing Economy parking will only be available at ERP, we’ve made the decision to rename that permit the Remote Campus Permit. This name helps illustrate that this parking permit will not be valid on the main campus, unless it is a Saturday, Sunday or after 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The chart below illustrates when and where this permit allows individuals to park.
***It's important to note that individuals wanting to park in the F/S ungated spaces at ERP will still be required to purchase a F/S ungated permit. The Remote Campus Permit does NOT allow individuals access to those spaces at ERP.***
This new permit option was created to give individuals who find themselves on campus only on weekends and/or after 4 p.m. on weekdays a better, more affordable option.
Best suited for employees who work nontraditional hours and students enrolled in night classes and Weekend U, this permit is valid in any unrestricted, unreserved space on both the Main campus and ERP campuses.
The chart below illustrates specific location and time parameters.
NEW SHUTTLE STOP
Building on the change we made this past year to our Cougar Line shuttle service when we introduced three new routes, we are working to add one or two additional stops to the PGH/ERP Route, as a way to better serve the Professional and Arts Districts on campus.
A change that came about after monitoring ridership data, listening to customer feedback and working with members of the Transportation and Parking Advisory Committee, we decided to place the new stop be near Entrances 17 and 18 off of Elgin near the General Services building; however, a firm location has not yet been determined.
We will continue to monitor our shuttle operations going forward to ensure we are serving the campus community to the best of our abilities.
In addition to all of that, we are also currently working with campus and community partners to explore ways to enhance our award-winning COAST program. While this initiative has enjoyed immense success during it's first year, we're working to build on that momentmum and know that there's certainly always room for improvement.
The biggest, most immediate change to the current program is that we will be enforcing a new rule that any carpools must have at minimum 3 riders.
This adjustment to that portion of COAST came after working closely with industry experts from Walter P. Moore who affirmed that while 2-person carpools can be convenient for some, they actually impede the overall goals we have for our program. Implementing this new stipulation will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of COAST and how it uses our available resources.
Carpools of just two people don't really improve the parking situation on campus, because once you factor in the oversell ratio we have built into each permit type, it actually requires at least 3 people to free up what would have otherwise been an occupied space.
When we launched COAST last year, we were mindful that it might take some time to change the way people think about and approach commuting, so we initially allowed carpools to consist of as few as two people; however, our coogs pleasantly surprised us with their willingness to embrace our innovative program, so we're adjusting as necessary.
If you're currently in a 2-person carpool and are curious about your options going forward, please drop by our COAST office located next to Taco Cabana.More updates and info on ourCOAST pageonce it's available.
While it might seem like this is a lot to implement at one time, these are improvements and changes we've been working on throughout the 2016-2017 year. Looking forward to rolling everything out this fall.
posted: Thursday, April 6, 2017