UM students cause parking congestion in residential neighborhoods
Every day, students’ cars line the streets of various neighborhoods near the University. Residents have voiced complaints, saying this scenario has become a major problem.
Many students have been parking in residential neighborhoods in an effort to avoid purchasing a commuter parking pass, which would allow them to park on campus.
Oxford resident Farrah McAlexander said the situation is especially inconvenient for her and her neighbors on Van Buren Avenue. According to McAlexander, students typically park in front of her home and on her street Monday through Friday.
Students use these neighborhood streets as their personal parking lot during the weekends as well, McAlexander said.
“The parking in front of my home, of course, is worse for my family because my drive can hold only two parked cars, so when my adult children bring their children over, there is no place for them to park,” McAlexander said. “The students have the parking spaces on the street daily in front of my home. We’ve lived here going on 40 years. Every year the parking is getting worse and worse.”
McAlexander said limited parking on the Square along with student parking causes local neighborhoods to fill up with vehicles. Many students are inconsiderate of local residents, she said.
“Several times cars have been parked in my drive and left overnight or until I call the towing company,” McAlexander said. “As one of Oxford’s taxpayers for a long time, we have no more rights to the street parking as the students, but we have paid enough city taxes to buy the street. Students do not see it this way, of course.”
According to Mike Harris, UM director of Parking and Transportation, an adequate amount of parking has been made available to students on campus. If students who choose to park in residential areas wanted to park on campus, they could, Harris said.
“We have a relatively new commuter lot off Hill Drive on Jeanette Phillips Drive, which has not been filled to capacity since we opened it,” Harris said. “We also have around 200 or so empty spaces at the south Park-N-Ride lot, as well as about 100 or so at the JAC Park-N-Ride lot open during the day.”
There are plans to expand parking and develop additional spots which are currently being implemented, Harris said.
The Office of Parking and Transportation will add several commuter spots in the coming year in order to accommodate the ever-growing student population.
Harris said there are plans to build a new residential parking garage, which will open in the fall of 2017, and will provide more than 1,500 additional parking spaces.
“We also are adding 32 spaces for commuters on Hill Drive across from the track, as well as designating the lot which is at the corner of West Road and Chucky Mullins to commuter parking for the fall which will add 36 spaces,” Harris said. “We are also looking to expand our Park-N-Ride program to include the Whirlpool lot in the near future with around 800 spaces. We are also going to start a campus shuttle loop around campus in fall of 2017 to help transport students, faculty/staff and visitors.”
The University provides on-campus parking for students, but there are other alternatives as well. One of those alternatives is Park-N-Ride, an express shuttle service that picks up and drops off students at several locations across campus.
Harris said he encourages students looking for parking on campus to use the app called “Parker,” available for Apple and Android users, to help them see which lots have available parking.
“The app shows the commuter lots on campus with a P circled in them. Based on the color of the P, there is plenty of parking if P is green, some parking if P is blue, or it’s full if P is red,” Harris said. “This can help to locate spaces quickly when looking for some place to park. The lots are monitored in real time and updated accordingly.”
Malachi Shinault, a junior integrated marketing communications major, uses the Park-N-Ride service instead of parking on campus.
“Driving to the Park-N-Ride is pretty great,” Shinault said. “It alleviates the pain of having to find parking on campus. I’ve yet to ever have problems parking at the Park-N-Ride and I normally only have to tack on an extra 15 minutes in order to wait for the bus, just to be safe.”