There is a method behind parking madness

Carrie Circosta

When it comes to deciding how many parking passes to sell each semester, it’s a simple but tricky process. Larry Emling, director of parking services, said the process starts by selling the amount of passes that are available in each parking lot. For example, there are almost 827 S-37 (residence hall) parking spots on campus. At first, parking services will only sell only 827 S-37 passes. But if they see empty spots at certain times of the day, they will sell more.

“After the first week of the semester, we try to get more people on campus,” Emling said. “We’re always monitoring the campus for open spots during certain times of the day. After two weeks, we’ll decide if we should sell more passes or not. There’s a chance that everyone’s not going to be here at the same time.”

As of fall 2006, 864 S passes were sold for 827 parking spots.

For 2,475 commuter parking spots, 4,500 C passes were sold. But selling commuter passes is different from selling residence hall passes. Emling said the type of parking lot also contributes to deciding how many passes to sell.

“Deciding how many commuter passes to sell is a little harder than dealing with residence hall passes because people are always coming and going,” Emling said. “We monitor commuter lots harder depending on the days. The peak class time is Tuesday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. We also go off past history to see if the number of passes sold worked well or not.”

But if some students aren’t satisfied with residence hall passes or commuter passes, there is an option of getting R passes, which are usually reserved for staff and faculty.

“If not all the R passes are sold and there’s open space during certain times of the day, we’ll sell R passes to graduate students and sometimes seniors,” Emling said.

But with School of Journalism and Mass Communication moving to Franklin Hall in Fall 2007, Emling said parking services will have to be more conservative when it comes to selling R passes.

“It’s better to undersell than oversell and trying to get those R passes back,” Emling said.

If a student can’t seem to come by an R pass, parking services is trying some new tactics when it comes to residence hall parking.

Can parking be more convenient?

Students who have an S-37 pass have probably noticed that the parking lot by McDowell Hall is no longer an S-37 lot — it’s an S-40.

Seniors were notified during the Fall 2006 semester about a senior parking lot that would be available during the Spring 2007 semester. For an extra $25, students of senior standing could turn in their S-37 passes for platinum S-40 passes.

“The problem was you weren’t sure where you’d park next since S-37 lots cover a large area,” said Thomas Clapper, senior assistant to the vice president for administration. “We’re trying to meet the needs of being able to park in the same area. We wanted to provide seniors some assurance because of their more complex schedules.”

Clapper said parking services looked at where the 496 seniors were living and tried to find the most logical spot for the new lot.

Clapper said an e-mail survey was sent to seniors to get their opinions about the parking lot.

“We had about 60 percent for it and 40 percent against it,” Clapper said. “It was enough survey response to try it. How did we know if it was going to work if we didn’t try it?”

So far, Clapper said there hasn’t been one ticket violation in the S-40 lot because of the controlled access. He also said Parking Services is keeping the lot for the Fall 2007 semester.

“We are sending out a survey to those with the S-40 pass,” Clapper said. “We are looking for feedback, and we want to try new programs to make parking more convenient.”

Emling said the biggest complaint heard about the S-40 lot is from those students who still have an S-37 pass because that lot isn’t an option anymore. The S-40 parking lot took away 128 S-37 spots.

“We reduced sales of S-37 passes for the spring,” Emling said. “And those people turning in S-37 passes for the S-40 made us pretty on target.”

Junior communications major Sean Johnson said the new lot made parking around the residence hall harder.

“At the time I got an e-mail about the S-40 pass, I had to pay an extra $50 to get it,” Johnson said. “I wasn’t going to pay an extra $50 to park in the same lot I did last semester. That lot took away a lot more S-37 parking spots, which doesn’t help because parking services oversells passes in the first place.”

Price comparisons

S passes and C passes cost $150 for a full year, and Emling said the money spent for parking passes goes back into the parking lots.

“Parking lots are more than asphalt and spots,” Emling said. “The money from parking passes goes towards lights, emergency phones, maintenance and snow removal.”

Emling also said the prices for passes at Kent State is about the same compared to other universities.

According to the University of Akron parking Web site, all parking passes cost $110 for the full year. According to parking services at Bowling Green University, all passes cost $60 for the Fall and Spring semesters.

Ohio University is about the same as Kent State when it comes to commuter passes and residence hall passes. Commuter passes cost $105 for all three quarters and residence hall passes cost $165 for the full year. But Ohio also offers a parking garage. A student of at least sophomore standing can purchase a garage permit for $330.

Contact online correspondent Carrie Circosta at [email protected].