UTEP parking: survival of the fittest

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UTEP parking: survival of the fittest

Students and faculty are currently voicing their frustrations against Parking and Transportation for the parking problems on campus.

Students and faculty are currently voicing their frustrations against Parking and Transportation for the parking problems on campus.

Claudia Hernandez

Students and faculty are currently voicing their frustrations against Parking and Transportation for the parking problems on campus.

Claudia Hernandez

Claudia Hernandez

Students and faculty are currently voicing their frustrations against Parking and Transportation for the parking problems on campus.

Melynda Venegas, Contributor

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UTEP parking lots and garages have been a test to many students’ patience the first two weeks of the fall 2017 semester.

Students struggle with not only getting into their permitted parking lots but also with finding a single parking spot. Director of UTEP’s Parking and Transportation Services, Ruben Chavira, said this is only a temporary problem.

“Every semester, there is an initial adjustment period due to new students on campus, which can impact the campus community members who have purchased their permits in advance,” he said. “These factors and a high volume of traffic in the parking office have impacted our customers.”

Many students have expressed concern that parking lot permits had been oversold.

“Parking lots have not been oversold,” Chavira said. “Adjustments have been made due to the loss of space in the parking lot across Sun Bowl Drive from the interdisciplinary research building construction site, and we are closely monitoring the space usage in the Sun Bowl parking garage.”

On Sept. 1 the UTEP Student Government Association (SGA) met with UTEP Parking and Transportation Services to discuss the current parking issues and possible solutions.

According to a Facebook post made by SGA regarding the meeting, Parking and Transportation Services said, “If no parking is available and you are a permit holder, you may park in adjacent lots for this instance.”

No citations will be issued to permit holders parking in adjacent lots for this instance. Students do not have to worry about getting a ticket while they are in class if they parked in an adjacent lot.

However, numerous students have replied to this post voicing their parking frustrations. Senior biological science major Kayla Quintero commented on this.

“It stinks having to come an hour earlier just to find parking,” she said. “I also did not pay over $300 to still park in the sun.”

SGA President Kristen Ahumada believes that the reason for the parking issues are due to the increase in the school’s numbers.

“This year it’s different because it’s a larger dynamic,” she said. “Last year we had 23,000 students and we didn’t go to 24. We skipped over 24 and went to 25,000 (students). It’s a record-breaking admission rate.”

This large influx of students is a factor that has led to the current parking issues students face.

“This semester I have definitely noticed that there’s a lot more students. I think that’s why there’s so many parking problems going on,” junior multimedia journalism major Luisa Mata said.

Students who park in the Sun Bowl parking garage sometimes drive around multiple times looking for a single parking spot. Mata has experienced this problem when going to class.

“I have to get to campus 45 minutes before class starts just so I can hopefully find parking. It’s so frustrating to see so many cars parked in my garage without permits,” Mata said.

An issue that has been occurring is the use of counterfeit paper permits.

“PT&S has made a concerted effort to mark and label all official paper permits so that they are easy to identify. PT&S field staff have been trained to recognize anything that does not fit these criteria. A collaborative effort is in place with the Office of Student Conduct to enforce disciplinary actions on students engaging in this type of behavior,” Chavira said.

A problem with parking is that there is no system in place that only allows permit holders into their designated lots.

“Issuing citations does not completely solve the problem, preventing entry is the answer,” Chavira said.

Accessibility and availability have been compromised. Parking lots fill up and students are late to class because they have to park elsewhere. Mata has been late multiple times trying to find parking.

“How am I supposed to know my lot is already full by the time I get there? I’ve had to park in remote lots several times this week and I was late to class because of it,”  Mata said.

Students who pay for the most expensive parking, such as the Sun Bowl garage, feel that if they paid the $324.50 to park in the garage, then students without permits should not be allowed to park there.

Ahumada offered a couple possible solutions that were discussed at the meeting.

“Parking said that they would beef up the shuttles to make the system faster for the people that get displaced,” Ahumada said.

Another possible solution discussed was shuttling students from Sunland Park Mall or Cielo Vista Mall.

“They’re landlocked so they can’t build anymore. They proposed that malls have a lot of extra parking space so they’d have students park there and then shuttle them to school,” Ahumada said. “Students would have to take into account the timing of the shuttles to get to class on time.”

Until the parking problems are fixed, Parking and Transportation recommends that students find alternatives to their commute.

“Students are advised to arrive as early as possible in case there is a high volume of cars in their parking lot or garage UTEP’s Parking and Transportation Services is staffing all of the Sun Bowl garage gates with community service guards to inform customers when it is at capacity. They are also providing options of other locations to park around the campus,” Chavira said.

Despite this, Ahumada plans to meet with the department and address more problems students are having, such as an influx of students being scheduled at the same time.

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