UMD Parking Services is trying to ease the hassle of getting to class on time by offering a variety of changes to the parking system this year. Changes to the UMD parking system have been in place for the past few weeks. This is the first semester that UMD has offered a new parking permit option that was designed to utilize the less used outer-perimeter lots. This, in turn, takes pressure off the high-traffic lots closer to the campus doors. This year, a new white permit option was made available to students for the first time. The white permits came at a reduced price of $120, down from $195, the cost of the maroon permits. The white permits allow students to park in several lots on the outer perimeter of the UMD campus. Maroon permit holders can park in maroon lots, located closer to doors, as well as the white lots.
"We wanted a price point difference between the white and maroon lots, to the extent where it would be attractive for some to pay a reduced rate, and walk a little further,” said Pat Keenan, Administrative Director for Student Life. “In some cases, that walk is literally across the street."
According to Keenan, in the past, drivers would circle the inner lots hoping to find an open spot. Often, drivers would give up and take a spot in the pay lot, and not look for a spot on the outer lots.
“They were essentially taking up two parking spaces: their permit space plus someone without a permit space,” said Keenan. “In the meantime, we had available parking in the outer lots.”
Parking Services takes daily lot surveys to determine where the majority of cars are parking and where open spaces are still available.
According to the daily lot surveys, the T2 overflow lot (near Oakland Apartments) and the M1 lot (near Stadium Apartments) always had open spaces.
Adjustments to the number of green permits available to on-campus residents freed up around 200 extra spaces for maroon permit holders, which gave Parking Services room to create the white permit option. With all of the construction happening on campus, nearly 75 of those spots are currently unavailable.
Parking Services also lowered the ratio of permits sold to spaces available. In the past, UMD would sell upward of two permits for every one space. That ratio has been reduced over the years and is currently at 1.3 permits to spaces available.
"The challenge is finding that sweet spot,” Keenan said. “The point is to sell enough permits so that we're effectively using the number of spaces, while allowing for as many people to have a permit that want one.”
Last year, the Office of Student Life teamed up with UMD’s Student Association (SA) to devise a plan that would address some of the parking issues. An ad hoc committee was formed to discuss possible changes.
"Half the battle was figuring out what was actually a problem, and what was just people complaining about a myth,” said Ben Dufault, SA member of the ad hoc committee.
"Parking is a lot more complicated than some people give it credit for."
The permits are not the only new changes for parking this year. Parking Services has partnered with the UMD Sustainability Office in hopes of encouraging students to use alternative forms of transportation.
Students who carpool to school and park in the pay lot will receive a stamp for every additional person in the vehicle. Ten stamps leads to a free day of parking.
There is also a free car charging station available to those with battery-powered vehicles. The charging station is located between the Darland Administration Building and the end of the metered parking in the B lot. There is a four-hour limit on the space. The station is available to anybody, including faculty, students and visitors.
Additionally, parking enforcement ends after 5 p.m., after which parking becomes free on all lots.
“The ability to park on campus in the evening is critical,” Keenan said. “Both from an evening class standpoint and also from the Duluth community standpoint.”
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