PTS gathers student feedback for parking

Jessica Voorhees

Parking and Transportation Services conducted a survey last week to get feedback from students on various parking improvement strategies. 

One improvement students pushed for was the construction of a new parking garage. The survey included questions that asked students how much they would be willing to pay to meet the price demand of a new garage.

Dennis Cain, transportation analyst, said a new parking structure would cost an estimated $18 million, but that figure doesn’t include what maintenance would cost. 

“We’re trying to find a breaking point where people would say it’s not worth it to build a new structure,” Cain said. 

Jennifer Tougas, director of Parking and Transportation Services, said that while a new parking structure is in the future plans of the university, the money to fund its construction does not currently exist. 

 “Building more parking costs a lot of money,” Tougas said. “The alternative we’re looking at is where we can reduce the demand.”

Tougas said PTS wanted feedback on where students would find overflow parking to be the most convenient. One option suggested in the survey was the vacant lot near the Bowling Green Ballpark. Students would not need a permit to park there and PTS would work on getting a bus route to stop at the lot. 

“We’re looking at places where we can add parking because we can’t do it on campus,” Tougas said.

PTS held four focus groups this past Tuesday and Wednesday, and will hold two on Thursday to discuss and receive feedback from commuters, housing residents with cars and students with no cars. 

“What focus groups allow us to do is to have a more detailed discussion with students,” she said. “It helps us understand students’ perceptions and experiences.”

Tougas said she hopes the focus groups will provide insight into why many commuters do not use the South Campus Park and Ride option. She wants to use the focus groups to market Park and Ride to commuters.

Tougas also hopes to convince housing students to leave their cars at home during the next fall semester by marketing other options such as the Topper Transit and Enterprise CarShare, a program that rents out cars to students. 

“If we can move 250 students to leave their cars at home, the back lot of Creason would open up again for commuters,” Tougas said.

Cain said a 5 percent decrease in students bringing cars to campus would eliminate the parking problem. 

“We can’t tell freshman not to bring cars, but we can incentivize them to choose other options,” Cain said. 

Cain said PTS designed the survey to gather feedback to formulate an early plan for changes that will take place next fall semester. 

“This year we had the worst opening in memory, so we’re trying to be proactive,” Cain said.