New parking system to be implemented in fall

Tired of people swiping your favorite parking spot? With UM’s new parking system, drivers can finally have one designated parking location on campus available at all times.

Effective in the fall, students, faculty and staff with cars will be required to apply for a parking permit in one of six zones around campus. By choosing a specific parking zone, drivers will only be able to park in their one designated zone during the day. Drivers can park wherever they want after 4 p.m. during the week or on weekends.

“The biggest issue we have on campus is not that we don’t have an availability of spaces,” said Richard Sobaram, director of parking and transportation. “In fact, we have close to 1,000 parking spaces that go unused on campus at the peak of the day when the most students are on campus.”

Campus is at its busiest when the most students are on campus, which is around 11 a.m. during the week. According to Sobaram, the most students are in class at that time on Tuesdays.

Typically the parking areas that fill up the quickest during the day are those at the “academic core,” the title Sobaram gives to the semicircle connecting the School of Business and the School of Law parking lots.

“During a regular class day, those parking lots get filled very quickly – it’s like the shopping mall on Christmas,” he said.

Meanwhile, other lots like those around the UC, where the apartments used to be and others by the baseball facilities remain highly unused.

The Department of Parking and Transportation hopes that this new parking system will distribute parking more evenly around campus and incentivize drivers to make use of typically unfilled spots.

The yellow parking zone will contain the most parking spots and will be comprised of the lots in front of Mahoney Pearson Residential College all the way west to the Wellness Center lots. The red zone will be the second largest parking area and it will stretch from the School of Business past the Memorial Building.

After analyzing data from surveys and taking into account the UM community’s parking worries, the Department of Parking and Transportation decided that parking zones would be the most efficient solution. Building a parking garage near the academic core (closer to Memorial and the LC) and another one by the UC, a project which would cost about $15 million, was out of the question.

“I’ve seen parking from both sides – as a student and employee. I know the university from inside and out and I’ve seen it from different perspectives,” said Sobaram, who has two degrees from UM. “We could use that money to make our degrees more valuable.”

The new parking system will not affect current permit costs. A full-year parking permit will cost each student and faculty or staff member $444. Drivers also have the option of choosing the green zone, which includes Ponce Garage and the surface lots under the metro rail across from the baseball stadium. The green zone is specifically for discounted parking permits which will still cost $226.

Applications will be available for parking permits starting in July. Members of faculty and staff will have first preference, followed by returning students. New students, including but not limited to freshmen, transfer students, first-year graduate and law school students, will be the last to choose. If drivers do not receive their first zone choice, they will be put on a waiting list.