Texas A&M first university to receive parking award

From The Battalion

By Alex Worsham

Published: Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Transportation Services was named Best Parking Organization by the International Parking Institute May 20. Texas A&M is the first university to receive this award.

"Transportation Services is a leader in several areas, including parking systems, technology-gate system software, innovative online service software, automated pay machine capabilities, marketing innovations, etc.," said International Parking Institute board of advisors member and University of Kentucky Parking and Transportation Services Director Don Thornton.

The International Parking Institute is a trade organization with members of parking organizations from cities, universities, hospitals, airports, theme parks, convention centers and racetracks.

"My evaluation of the applications was based on excellence in overall job performance, outstanding service to students, employees and visitors, leadership in the campus parking and transportation industry, customer service, operating a quality program over a period of time, and initiative and/or creativity," Thornton said.

The applications were scored on six different areas.

"We score them on organizational membership, professional reputation, contribution to the parking industry, creative solution, reliability and the breadth of the program," said International Parking Institute committee chairwoman and University of Kansas Transportation and Parking director Donna Hultine.

A&M's Transportation Services was also chosen for the amount of improvement it's made, said Transportation Services Director Rodney Weis.

"If you talk to people who went here 10 years ago they'd say it was just crazy," Weis said. " People would wait in the parking lot for hours waiting for somebody to leave."

Statistics show that the number of towed vehicles has dropped 75 percent in the past five years.

"When you've got a system that works, people don't feel like [they] have to violate [it]," Weis said. "Our web registration, citation appeals process and payment process is actually one of the best in the nation."

Texas A&M's Transportation Services has provided an example to universities across the nation, Hultine said.

"What it came down to is the fact that many of us had actually benefitted from a program Texas A&M started," Hultine said. "They've gone out of their way to share their programs with us."

Transportation Services is continuing to work on improving the system, Weis said.

Texas A&M partnered with software company T2 Systems and various other universities to in an effort to improve gated lots.

"We just started this year on citations, they'll have a photograph attached so if you can't remember it will be posted on your account," Weis said. " We try to get as much information out as we can. There are no secrets."

The student body's needs are very important to transportation services, Weis said.

"Other companies are amazed at how much time we spend with students," Weis said.

The entire University is to be congratulated on this accomplishment, Thornton said.

"A university cannot have an exceptional parking and transportation program without the support of the university administration," Thornton said.

Texas A&M's Transportation Services was honed into an efficient system after a period of trial and error, Thornton said.

"Like Texas A&M, other organizations should learn from the negative experiences of the past, not repeat those mistakes, and move forward. [We will] never give up searching for ways to improve. [We will] place priority on communication with customers and [won't] be afraid to be innovative," Thornton said. "Texas A&M's parking and transportation program is constantly setting new standards for the industry."