We’ve all experienced it, driving to class thinking that you have enough time to park and walk to class and even have time to spare. But then you pull into the parking garage and behold, an endless maze of cars and people and those darn mopeds that always trip us up. Twenty minutes later, you’re late to class, sweating from running across campus and descending four flights of stairs.
Parking is an issue that seems to bring more and more problems each year, and students are getting frustrated. As enrollment goes up, so do the number of cars on campus. Entering the garage is like a huge leap of faith. Will there be a spot? Will I get hit by someone speeding? Will someone hit my car as they whip around a corner?
Let it be known, though, that efforts are being made to try and solve this. According to Matt Penney, director of parking and transportation services at Baylor, the 2017-2018 school year has brought some new parking initiatives. These highlights include virtual parking permits (eliminating lines at the parking office), parking availability counters, the free Ferrell Center parking option and the HOME shuttle.
With the support of the Student Government (Campus Improvement Committee) Parking Services was able to install parking availability counters on four parking garages to specifically indicate the availability of around 3,500 student parking spaces, Penney said in an email to The Lariat. The space sensors are great, however, they’re only available at the front entrance of parking garages. In addition, they don’t say where the availability is, so students are still aimlessly driving around looking for spots. And, if you get there when the number is in the single digits, there’s no guarantee you’ll get a spot if someone behind you snags one before you.
Penney also mentioned that with the support of the Administration, Parking Services was able to provide a free student Ferrell parking option, supported by an Express BUS service every 10 minutes. In addition to the Express BUS, an extra route was added to the BUS Service, the HOME shuttle. It was added to fill a one hour gap between when the daytime BUS service ended, 5:30 p.m., and when the after-hours BUS service began, 6:30 p.m. The goal of the HOME shuttle is to help students with classes and jobs in the afternoon. Eliminating the gap is a step towards making the BUS service more convenient and reasonable.
In theory, the Ferrell option is great. No payment, no frustration with the garages, and a bus to take you to campus? Yes please! However, as the year has started and students are trying these options out, it seems that the efforts aren’t as helpful as intended. The biggest complaint brought up is the inconvenience of the Express BUS, because it can only take so many people. So, if you get there during the pre-class rush, you have to wait and risk being late yet again. The after hours BUS is great because it runs until 1:30 a.m., but doesn’t have a stop at the Ferrell Center, so students who parked there with the free option and didn’t make it back before 5:30 p.m. have to walk to the Ferrell Center at night.
As an editorial board, we appreciate the efforts. Baylor is changing rapidly and growing in physical size as well as population, so a lot of adjustments have to be made that are atypical of the status quo. The parking counters and additions to BUS routes are just the first step. We think sensors like those at the Dallas-Fort Worth International airport, lighting up green above an available spot, would be a great next step. Another step we want to see the department of parking and transportation services take is to offer an after hours BUS route that stops at the Ferrell Center, so students aren’t stranded if they have a late class or job. We also encourage students to share with The Lariat their ideas for making parking better. Great first steps have been made, but the end solution isn’t quite in sight yet.