Why College Campus Parking Sucks And How To Fix It

Photo: Dewitt (Getty Images)

Depending on your college, the campus parking experience ranges from fine to borderline impossible. As numbers of college students rise in the U.S., schools will need to find more viable campus parking solutions. The U.S. is mostly a car-based nation, and college campuses will have to accommodate that.

In 2015, the Los Angeles Times pointed out that parking on U.S. college campuses has been an ongoing issue as far back as the 1950s. If colleges want to be rid of their parking problems, they simply need to discourage cars. It would also be less costly to encourage students to walk, bike, or take public transit to campus. Building and maintaining parking garages can be very expensive compared to putting up more bike racks. Even maintaining a university shuttle service is cheaper than building a massive land consuming parking lot.

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Building a parking lot can even be a shot in the foot, because it can encourage individuals to bring their cars to campus, and colleges cannot always build enough new spots to accommodate the demand for parking. Colleges often have limited amounts of land, and cars take up more than their fair share of space.

Campus parking is an issue for everyone at college, not just students. Faculty and other campus employees, all of whom presumably live off-campus and must commute, also struggle to find sufficient campus parking. Lack of campus parking leads directly to less productive classes because students and faculty show up late to class. Problems compound when people who can’t find parking create pockets of congestion.

Some universities have taken malicious advantage of the lack of parking on their campus, selling over-priced parking passes and permits. Students at the University Of Utah had to pay up to $600 for their parking permits.

The number of parking citations at universities is skyrocketing; for example, the University Of Buffalo issued 17,750 citations in 2016 and the University Of Central Florida issued over 43,000 tickets in 2016. While parking tickets can be a source of funding for colleges, they don’t fix parking issues. Some individuals will even resign themselves to parking tickets because they care more about arriving on time to class.

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If students can bike or walk, they should, and therefore be part of the solution to parking problems on college campuses. Rather than simply discouraging students from parking, colleges should create reliable transportation systems and offer incentives to students who use public transportation. Ultimately, solving the campus parking conundrum will make the college experience better for everyone.


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