Texas A&M switches parking permit methods

The Eagle

By Megan Rodriguez

Published: August 16, 2021

Texas A&M is making a switch to virtual parking permits on campus this school year. Rather than having hangtags that designate which lot a person can park in, license plates will serve as a permit for students, faculty and staff.

The change will mean that cameras and license plate recognition software will be used to verify that a person is allowed to park on campus. Customers will need to register their license plate and pay for parking.

It’s a method that has been used at the RELLIS campus since 2018 and one that will save some money from a printing and mailing perspective. But Lynn Wiggs, associate director of A&M Transportation Services, said the cost was not the main motivation behind the change.

“It’s another effort that we’re using to align with our commitment to sustainability,” Wiggs explained. “Because if we’re not printing permits, then we’re not using that plastic, we’re not using envelopes, things of that nature.”

Registration has closed, but people have been able to get on a waitlist since Aug. 1. Night and motorcycle permits are always available and can be purchased online, according to the Transportation Services website.

Those who need to park in a garage or behind a gate will also get an “access device” that can be scanned to get into those spaces. Wiggs said this will be about the same size as a current hangtag permit and will not require the school to replace any type of equipment since people are already able to scan their hangtags to get into garages and gated areas.

Many of the hourly visitor parking areas around campus have already been using license plates for some time, Wiggs said. But visitors have been able to purchase daily, weekly and monthly parking passes that could be printed out and displayed in the car. The new method will eliminate the need to print anything since visitors could purchase these longer-term passes online and enter in their license plate instead.

Transitioning to enforcing this new type of parking should be smooth, Wiggs said, as the university has used the camera technology for 12 years to read license plates to find people with overdue citations.

Wiggs said there are several schools across the country that use this type of system, including the University of North Texas and Baylor University.

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