Whose spot is it anyways: Parking at Southern

Jozsef Papp

Every new academic year, there is a change in the number of students that attend Georgia Southern. As a result, every year there is usually an increase or decrease in the number of parking spaces available for students.

Parking numbers

Currently, GS has a total of 3,331 parking spaces available for students to park on campus, not including the stadium (which is open to every student), Lot 41 (which is currently in construction) and residence hall lots, according to records received from the university.

For the Fall 2017 semester, Lot 42 (the education and military and science building parking lots) has the most spaces available for students, 848 spaces, and, as of Aug. 22, there have been 1519 permits sold, according to an open records request.

Parking at Georgia Southern

Most universities around the country oversell parking permits since it is not expected for all the spots to be filled at the same time during the day. At Georgia Southern, it has been common practice to oversell parking permits for the past couple of years.

“This is a standard practice in our industry. We know that not all permit holders will be on campus at the same time. We actually hold back the sales, knowing the first two weeks of a semester will be a challenge as people frequently park illegally. Once the illegally parked car problem resolves, we work our way through our waiting lists,” Kristi Bryant, director of parking and transportation services, said.

Parking and transportation has a system they utilize to determine when to start selling waitlist parking spots.

“We have determined that Tuesday at 11 a.m. is the busiest time of the week, we count every car in each parking lot [at this time],” Bryant said.

After counting every car and the parking lot is sold out, they determine the percentage of occupied at the busiest time of day. If it’s below 90 percent, they open the waiting list. If it’s at or over 90 percent, they can’t open the waiting list and it means that there is still too many cars illegally parked, according to Jennifer Wise, director of communications at GS.

Now, the Parking and Transportation Services office feels that parking capacity has not been reached on campus. They feel that during the first couple of weeks of the semester, since it’s usually the required attendance period, is when most of the parking lots will be filled.

“We have found that time will fix the problem. Each year, most universities face this problem during the required attendance period (first two weeks),” Bryant said. “People may park illegally taking spaces that our permit holders could be using. After the first two weeks, the problem starts to resolve itself through parking enforcement and as students adjust to their schedules.”

Long-term plans

Currently, the parking and transportation services office has no plans to construct more parking lots for students to park on campus because “there is not a lot of real estate in the core area of campus to construct any new parking lots,” according to Bryant. However, they hope to redesign some parking lots, similar to Lot 21 (Russell Union/Bookstore).

“We hope to re-engineer/redesign many of the student parking areas to maximize the amount of parking stalls for the size of the lot,” Bryant said. “We have completed a three-year construction project behind the Russell Union/Bookstore in Lot 21. It is our plan to move around campus, as budget allows, and do the same thing.”

President Jaimie Hebert hasn’t been directly involved in any conversations about expansion of parking, but feels the Parking and Transportation office is doing a great job in analyzing any problems with parking. At this time, problems haven’t escalated to reach the level of the president’s cabinet.

“There is ample parking available. It’s not always as convenient as everyone will like,” Hebert said. “We will continue to work to provide parking and transportation through the bus system to and from parking areas as we grow.”

Bus system

Another way the parking and transportation services office hopes to cut down the number of students purchasing parking permits and resulting in parking problems, is by encouraging students to use the bus system. However, a proposal to adding a bus route to Sweetheart Circle presented to university leadership by previous Student Government Association (SGA) was denied and parking and transportation doesn’t plan to add more buses to the current Gold and Blue routes.

“For our infrastructure, we are at maximum capacity for buses and cannot place more buses on the line. Often, it is faster and more convenient to simply walk,” Bryant said.

SGA president Dylan John submitted a proposal regarding the potential addition of more buses or additional bus routes to President Hebert that has been given to parking and transportation for further analysis. President Hebert hopes a decision to be made on that soon.

“They have [brought up the proposal],” Hebert said . “In fact, we have asked the parking and transportation office to look into the demands and the cost of running additional buses. I know one of the proposals was to run a bus through Sweetheart Circle, I’m not sure about whether we can do those things or not, but we can certainly get some new bus routes.”

However, there are many factors that go into getting approval of new bus routes or the purchase of new buses, according to Hebert. He will go through the parking and transportation office before making any decisions.

I”n order to change bus routes or to purchase buses, there are a lot of regulations. There are Georgia Department of Transportation regulations, city regulations, state regulations regarding roadways and so forth that I’m not aware of,” Hebert said.

Parking permit prices compared to other universities

At Georgia Southern, parking permit prices are fairly lower than other schools in the state, such as UGA and Georgia Tech.

Commuter Lot permits, most of the parking lots on campus, cost $160 per student for the whole year and students can utilize any 30 minute space around campus, RAC and stadium parking. Resident Lot permits are $160, while Carpooling permits are $110.

At Georgia Tech, annual individual permit cost $795, while carpooling permits cost $695 and semester long parking permits cost $400, according to the Georgia Tech Parking and Transportation Services website.

UGA does parking a bit different than Georgia Southern, in which they charge their students monthly, either $20, $30 or $40, depending on the lot. Permits are sold for either 9 or 12 months periods. In addition, since UGA has parking decks on their campus, students can park on the different decks on campus and be charged fees depending on how long they stay on that location.