The University of Mississippi plans to continue “pedestrianizing” the Oxford campus in the coming months as a way to deal with the parking problem on campus.
Pedestrianizing refers to the process of establishing parking lots off campus while downsizing and slowing the growth of the existing lots within the confines of campus. This process, as its name implies, will push Ole Miss closer to being primarily a campus for pedestrians instead of drivers.
Despite the growing demand for on-campus parking, the number of parking-related citations issued by the University Police Department (UPD) was down from 36,446 citations issued in fall 2011 to 33,888 citations issued in fall 2012. Citations are issued for cars parked in lots designated for specific purposes.
“The most cited offense is commuters parking in staff and faculty lots,” said Isaac Astill, director of the Department of Transportation and Parking at Ole Miss. “We cut down on that by putting up nearly 170 signs around campus which clearly mark which lots to use.”
These signs can be found at the entrance of nearly every parking lot on campus. The signs are small, green and clearly mark who is supposed to park in each lot.
To continue to deal with the challenges of parking on campus, the Ole Miss Department of Parking and Transportation plans to find creative ways to better use the parking that has already been established. Astill pointed out the uneven distribution of cars parked on campus. There are lots that are not being filled on a daily basis, while others are nearly overflowing.
He said one example of creative solutions to the university’s parking situation involves the Residential College (RC). After the 1500 allotted parking stalls seemed to be far too many for the RC residents to occupy fully, according to Astill, the department decided to cut down the number of stalls from 1500 to 1000.
Another large contributor to the parking solution on campus has been Oxford University Transit (OUT).
OUT consists of eight different shuttle routes and currently runs from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day, transporting patrons from their living places or parking places to specific stops on campus.
OUT is free for Ole Miss students and has seen a noticeable increase in its use over the past semester.
“I know that last year there were 56,000 riders per month,” he said. “This semester, OUT ridership nearly reached 90,000 riders per month twice.
“Plans are in motion now to expand the OUT hours from 7 p.m. through 9 p.m. on campus to make the bus system more accessible to students.”
The new hours are planned to go into effect next fall.
OUT is currently running routes that have stops at apartment complexes as well as high-traffic areas in the Oxford area. OUT routes and a color-coded parking map can be found at the university’s website: www.olemiss.edu/parking/.