Transportation and Parking Services Updates
A black Hyundai searches for a parking spot in the lot to the north Side of the Liberal Arts Building on Friday April 14, 2017 at the University of Central Oklahoma. (Cara Johnson/The Vista).
UCO’s Transportation and Parking Services department is building new parking spaces and implementing other ideas to make parking simpler for next semester.
After the construction of the new Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics building (STEM) eliminated several parking spots for faculty and staff, TPS has seen a growing concern about the parking situation for next semester for commuters and faculty.
The system that the University of Central Oklahoma currently has is called a “hunting license.” This type of system sells permits regardless of the number of spaces and doesn’t guarantee anyone a specific place to park.
The hunting license system was popularized in the 1990s when universities had an abundance of parking, but low enrollment numbers, Josh Stone, director of TPS, said. Because of the increase in enrollment at UCO, the system has become an issue for TPS to tackle and repair.
“What it comes down to is we recognize the system we have right now isn’t working the way it did when we started it 20 years ago,” Josh Overocker, the assistant vice president for operations at UCO, said. “So, now is the time for us to be looking into how to handle it differently.”
There have been rumors swirling that TPS was looking into a type of tiered system, similar to what Oklahoma State University utilizes for their students. A tiered system is where the more money a person pays for a parking spot, the closer to campus they get to park. This would create zoning for parking lots.
“We don’t have a parking space problem. We have an allocation and perception problem,” Stone said. “This is just one way we would try to fix it and make it better.”
According to Overocker, Stone has been working with consultants that have reviewed our system to recommend how to improve the way TPS allocates spaces and permits.
“The answer on the tiered system… is that it is something that we are looking into,” Stone said.
One solution that TPS has put into motion was purchasing a lot where the Arcadian Inn off of University Drive used to be. That land will become a new commuter lot, creating 60 new spots for students. The idea is to increase parking available on the west side of campus to free up any parking taken up on the east side, Stone said.
TPS is also considering opening up the visitor’s lot for commuters as well, except on days where there is a big event on campus that would need those spaces to be reserved.
Another rumor that was addressed was faculty having to pay for parking. According to Overocker, he doesn’t believe that would be a benefit that the university would cut; however, he also said that the university has yet to figure out what type of cut will happen to the university budget.
“We would hope to be able to put into a system that would keep costs lower for everybody because we recognize that that’s the pain – for parking and everything else – is a part of the overall costs for attending school,” Overocker said.
Another new addition for next semester is that students, faculty and staff will have the option of having their parking decals mailed to them instead of having to come to the Nigh University Center at the start of the year to pick it up. Decals will remain at $125 per person.
TPS has also implemented moving over parking citations to bursar accounts at the end of the semester to make paying for the citations simpler. Although this isn’t the first time TPS has done this, it is something that they are retrying in hopes of increased convenience. Students will now be able to pay their citations at the bursar office or at through the parking office.