PTS ‘actively trying’ to address parking woes

A student drives down the spiral after parking in Parking Structure 1. Jake Pope/HERALD

Jessica Voorhees

The first few weeks of the semester produced the most difficult parking situation in history for WKU, as many commuters were unable to find parking anywhere on the main campus, said Jennifer Tougas, director of Parking and Transportation Services.

Tougas said she was aware parking would be difficult before the beginning of the school year.

“We made adjustments for the fall knowing we didn’t have adequate parking for commuters,” said Tougas.

PTS limited commuter permit sales this semester due to the expected increase of cars on campus from students who live in the new Kentucky Street apartments.

Dennis Cain, PTS transportation analyst, said that out of more than 200 new apartment residents, 150 bought permits. These students park at the Adams Street Lot, allowing no overflow parking there for commuters, which was available in years past.

“We expected that,” Tougas said. “When we limited commuter sales for parking we were trying to make it easier, but we had more housing students than expected.”

Tougas said the university experienced an eight percent increase in students living on campus this year, which caused an increase in students having cars on campus as well.

Tougas said this came as a surprise because she had been observing a steady decline in housing permits for the past eight years.

The housing students with cars have been dominating lots previously used by commuters, such as the Creason parking lot, Cain said. 

Tougas said PTS cannot limit housing permits because it would violate administration policy.

PTS has taken several measures to attempt to mend the parking situation on campus, such as creating a C2 permit. Students can exchange their commuter permit for a C2 to access the Alumni Square Garage parking for the fall semester at no extra cost.

Cain said only about 90 people have exchanged their permits for a C2.

“The accommodation is available,” Tougas said. “It’s just a matter of people taking us up on the offer.”

However, after the completion of the Hyatt Place hotel near Augenstein Alumni Center, the ASG garage will lose 180 spots to the hotel.

Cain said another problem is students who bought premium housing permits before the semester found they didn’t live near the premium lots and now park elsewhere.

“We are at a point where we need additional parking capacity,” Tougas said.

Cain said the construction of a new garage is not feasible because of the cost.

Tougas said the garage design and construction alone would take two to three years.

“It takes funds and time,” Tougas said. “If students want to keep the fees low, then we need to use what’s available.”

She also encouraged commuters to consider parking at South Campus and taking the bus to main campus.

Steve Rowland, transportation manager, said buses arrive at South Campus every six minutes. From there, students can arrive at the Creason lot in five minutes and the top of the Hill in 15 minutes.

“It’s easily more efficient than driving around campus,” Rowland said.

However, not all students believe that is a viable alternative.

Bowling Green junior Alex Oldham said it would be inconvenient for her to use the South Campus lot. 

“For me to have to drive all the way to South Campus just to get on a bus to come all the way back to campus would be really pointless,” she said.

This year, Topper Transit buses also stop at the Columns and Campus Evolution Villages apartments to serve the off-campus residents who live there, Rowland said.

Tougas said she hopes the parking situation will steadily improve after midterms as students drop out and graduate in the winter.

For now, she wants students to know PTS is doing its best to improve the situation.

“We’re actively exploring areas where we can increase parking,” Tougas said. “For commuters still frustrated with parking, take us up on our offers. Let us help you.”