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Parking Problems Take a Turn for the Better

From The Eagle

By Brett Nauman

Published: Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The parking lot next to Texas A&M University’s Polo Fields always had been a scene of frustration for the several thousand students trying to claim one of the 1,600 spaces.

Aggies with commuter permits often clogged the parking lot as they searched for a place to park, said Rod Weis, director of Transportation Services for A&M.

But the demand in lot 50 and other parking areas on campus disappeared almost immediately last semester when A&M changed the way it doles out parking permits, Weis said.

Parking is better on campus
Eagle photo/Butch Ireland

Parking citations and the number of vehicles towed at Texas A&M have decreased since new parking regulations were enacted.

Gone are the color-coded permits that encouraged students to hunt for the best spots on campus, he said. Each student now is assigned to a single lot where he or she can park.

Transportation Services controls the number of permits issued for each parking lot. Parking studies have helped determine the number of students who should be assigned to each lot, Weis said.

Controlling the number of permits allows A&M officials to guarantee that students will find an empty space in their assigned lot. That’s true even for lot 50, Weis said.

Lot 50, which is just west of the Bonfire Memorial, was requested most by A&M students during the months leading up to the fall semester.

Transportation Services assigns lots based on those student requests. Graduate students and upperclassmen receive seniority in the process and have most of the 2,700 permits A&M issued for lot 50, Weis said.

Some concrete statistics indicate the new permit system is working, Weis said. The numbers of parking tickets being written and vehicles towed have fallen significantly, he said.

Citations dropped by 24 percent, while the number of vehicles towed fell by 70 percent, Weis said, comparing statistics from the fall 2004 and fall 2003 semesters.

“I attribute the declines to the fact we’ve cut down on frustration,” Weis said. “Students can find a space when they get to their lot. I think that’s the key reason citations are down.”

But the anecdotal evidence is more powerful, Weis said. Students just haven’t been complaining since early September, when the new permit system took effect, he said.

Student Body President Jack Hildebrand agreed. For his first three years at A&M, parking consistently was the students’ top complaint.

The situation in lot 50 was mirrored at many student lots across campus, said Hildebrand, a senior.

“You were guaranteed to wait in line for at least 15 minutes to find a space as students got out of their classes,” he said.

“[Parking] has been awful in the past. This year was a big turnaround. I personally haven’t heard any complaints since September. The fact I don’t hear much is a true testament to the new system.