Ole Miss parking changes spark student criticism

Posted on Aug 26 2013 - 8:11am by Hawley Martin
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The University of Mississippi community will experience changes to the parking system this year including a new layout for the parking lots on campus regarding visitor parking and construction, a price increase for registering a vehicle, online registration and replacing the parking decals with hangtags for registered vehicles.

The Traffic and Parking Committee, an extension of the Department of Parking and Transportation, has implemented a number of changes after evaluating the parking situation last year and looking forward to the future.

“We talked about permit rates, permit designation, where we’re going to allow certain people to park, which parking lots are we losing, which parking lots are we building, what construction lots are happening and how are we going to deal with those,“ said Isaac Astill, Director of Parking Services.

This year, visitors are required to have a parking permit and must park in one of the six visitor lots on campus. These lots are for visitors only, and permits cost $1 per day. The permits can be purchased online in advance, or on campus in Lester Hall or the visitor center at the entrance of the Circle on University Avenue on campus.

The parking department is stressing a decentralized parking system and is encouraging more students and faculty to take advantage of the Park and Ride service or to park in a lot and utilize the O.U.T. Bus to get to campus.

“The master plan shows that we’re having to move people from the interior of campus to the exterior of campus, due to all the construction projects that are happening,” said Astill.

A new parking lot has already been erected behind the IPF and the track with 300 new spaces. Any permit may park there.

In order to encourage more students to use these methods of transportation, the department is extending the hours for Park and Ride and city shuttle services from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Astill explained that the Department of Parking and Transportation is an auxiliary to campus and doesn’t receive funding from the university. In looking at other parking programs in the SEC and in the state of Mississippi,  Astill said Ole Miss’ funding was far less than what those were. Services like Park and Ride and the city shuttle are paid for through permit sales, ticket citations, traffic violations and the bike share program.

Because both services have been extended and in order to plan for future parking improvements, the price of parking permits has increased from last year. Commuter parking permits cost $95 this year, and faculty/staff permits cost $120. Additionally, the price of student permits will increase by $10 each year for the next three years, and faculty/staff permits will increase by $15 each year for the next three years.

This year, students must pre-register online for their parking permit in order to eliminate long lines in Lester Hall, the home for the Department of Parking and Transportation. Astill stated that the department has already processed 14,000 permits, a number that it does not typically hit until after the first week of classes.

For the first time, the university will use hangtags for parking permits rather than parking decals. The hangtags are registered to individuals rather than their car. This method allows multiple individuals to share a parking permit.

Students have voiced their opinions on social media and in conversation since the parking changes were implemented.

“I thought the parking on campus couldn’t get any worse,” senior accounting major Cameron Sweetwood said. “Apparently it can.”

For more information on parking, visit www.olemiss.edu/parking.