By Daniel C. Houston
Baylor Parking Services records show fewer students opted to purchase this year’s new discounted parking decals for the East Campus Parking Garage and the Ferrell Center parking lots than parking services employees had hoped.
While 216 students bought stickers granting them access exclusively to the east campus garage, only 56 decided to buy the Ferrell Center permit, which fell short of the expectations Matt Penney, director of parking and transportation services, had for the program.
Penney said he had hoped parking services would sell 500 decals for the east campus garage and 100 for the Ferrell Center parking lots.
The east campus garage, which can hold more than 800 cars at any given time, routinely holds only a fraction of that capacity during peak parking hours.
“We basically have 400 parking spaces in a multi million -dollar facility that aren’t being utilized,” Penney said. “We have another 2,000 parking spaces that are just across the street from campus with a bus [stopping] every seven minutes that students aren’t interested in. And so, instead of starting a conversation about ‘there’s nowhere to park on campus,’ I’d rather focus on ‘how can we utilize what we have that’s sometimes overlooked?’”
The program, which was intended to alleviate traffic congestion in the high-traffic parking facilities on campus such as the bookstore garage, offers students three options for parking decals: the traditional sticker allowing access to all Baylor parking facilities, which sells for $245; a $150 alternative allowing access only to the east campus garage; and a $95 day pass allowing students to park in the Ferrell Center lots until 5:30 p.m. All three passes allow access to campus facilities after 5 p.m. and before 7 a.m. on weekdays, limiting restrictions on access to peak parking hours.
Penney and other Baylor administrators intended to offer less expensive alternatives to the standard parking pass in order to draw more drivers away from areas closer to academic buildings and toward underutilized facilities.
“While there’s plenty of parking around on the Baylor campus, students, faculty and staff have grown accustomed to parking extremely close,” Penney said.
“While the east campus garage provides an option that would be appealing on most, if not all, other major university campuses, it’s not appealing here. Because of that, we have more students buying the on-campus permit than we currently have spaces on campus.”
While the new program has not attracted the numbers administrators anticipated, it has brought more attention to the east campus parking garage in particular.
Carrollton sophomore Ryan Andrews found out about the opportunity to park in the garage when shopping for the decals.
Andrews’ need to park on campus occasionally prompted him to purchase the traditional, all-access sticker. Now Andrews parks at the east campus garage on a regular basis.
“On the days where my first class is in the [Baylor Sciences Building] and I end in the BSB, I park here,” Andrews said. “It doesn’t fill up. If I don’t have an 8 o’clock class, I can’t get anything closer.”
Penney said the program’s relatively slow start can be attributed to insufficient advertising of the available options, but also pointed out the difficulty in persuading a substantial portion of the student body to change behavior in a small amount of time.
“We realized it wouldn’t fit every student’s need,” Penney said, “but for every student that found it attractive and decided it fit their needs, that was pulling one more car off the interior of campus.”