Why are permits so expensive?
Permit pricing at UNCG is based almost entirely on the cost of building and maintaining parking infrastructure. Decks are the most efficient way to use UNCG’s limited space; however, each deck space costs roughly 3x as much as a surface lot space to build and maintain.One example: adding an additional 500 parking spaces to Oakland Deck would cost an estimated $13,000,000. If UNCG only charged Oakland Deck permit holders for this construction, this would cost roughly $13,000 per Oakland permit. Spread across the entire permit population, this would cost roughly $1,798 per permit. Both of these do not take into account debt service costs or maintenance for the additional infrastructure.
Is either pricing model fair for the additional capacity? What happens when car #501 arrives at Oakland deck after the expansion – do they benefit from the additional capacity they have helped pay for? Why did UNCG choose to expand Oakland, and not Walker or McIver decks?
Many UNCG students will recognize these questions as potential “principal–agent problems.” It is the job of Parking Operations and Campus Access Management to address these concerns and make sure decisions are as fair as possible on behalf of all members of the UNCG community.
Will permit prices keep going up?
Permit prices are determined by how much will be needed to support a financial plan that will pay for demand changes. As demand goes up, so must prices. Other factors include:
- Loss of parking lots to new building (academic and housing)
- Cost of infrastructure: emergency blue lights, cameras, utility lines, communication equipment, payment processing, maintenance and equipment costs, etc.
If demand rises due to enrollment increases, prices must rise to produce more parking options. If demand falls due to an increase in sustainable transportation use, prices still rise to compensate for permit revenue shortfalls (ie. POCAM still has to pay for the lots and decks UNCG owns). Balancing pricing changes is one of the most challenging issues POCAM considers when making decisions.
If these were the only factors considered, rates would actually be much higher. The financial impact on students, faculty and staff is also taken into account. Prices are kept as low as fiscal responsibility will allow while considering future parking and building opportunities for the University.
Can’t you do anything to making parking more convenient?
Unfortunately, convenience is subjective. As a student, it may be convenient to have more parking on the north side of campus if you’re a music major. However, if you’re a business student, you’d want parking near the core of campus. If you’re a staff or faculty member, you want to park where you work.If you think about every person that is on campus any given day, you soon realize there is not enough land for every person to park where they want. People have three primary goals when it comes to parking – parking should be inexpensive, convenient, and sufficient to meet demand. However, it’s only possible to meet two goals at any one time.
Parking can be both inexpensive and convenient, but then there will not be sufficient capacity because everyone will want to utilize those spaces. Likewise, parking can be sufficient and convenient, but it will not be inexpensive because high-demand areas are expensive to develop. Lastly, parking can be inexpensive and sufficient (remote parking), but many will feel it is too inconvenient to use.
Your view of parking may change if you consider another factor – reliability. If convenience takes reliability into account (ex. I know I will always find a spot AND I know how long it will take me to get to my building), then UNCG’s Park and Ride is easily one of the most inexpensive, sufficient, and convenient ways to park on campus.
A little bit of planning goes a long way when you think about how you should access campus. Only you control your parking preference.
What does UNCG do with permit money?
Almost all permit revenue goes toward:
- Design and construction new parking decks
- Debt service (paying back construction bonds)
- Maintenance of existing decks and lots
- Supporting UNCG’s transportation program
A small percentage pays for operations and traffic control staffing as well as support for campus transportation programs.
I don’t have to pay to park at the grocery store. Why do you charge?
You do pay for parking at the grocery store. At the grocery store a fraction of each cent you use to buy bread, eggs, and so forth is used to pay for your parking. On your city street, your taxes pay for your ability to park. At UNCG, as in many metro and downtown areas, we expose the hidden cost of parking. In order to best utilize our limited resources, the cost of parking is the rate you pay to park on campus.
I pay taxes, tuition, and student fees… why do I have to pay for parking?
- State funds and student fees are not used to pay for parking facilities.
- Parking has to independently raise each dollar it spends.
- Collected citation fines cannot supplement construction or maintenance of parking facilities.
- There are State statutes governing our parking fines (GS 115C-457.1-3, page 370). Basically, the law says that civil fines (i.e., your parking ticket) have to be remitted to the State. The State allocates this money to local public schools (not colleges and universities). UNCG may be refunded up to 20% of the cost of enforcement collection – this represents a small percentage of the total cost of parking enforcement. In short, UNCG does not make money off of enforcement. UNCG uses enforcement as a tool to make sure those who park legally (most people) have a place to do so in an organized and fair way.
Why is it hard to find a parking space?
During peak demand for the Fall 2015 semester, UNCG students, faculty, and staff utilized roughly 86% of UNCG’s parking capacity. So while it may be difficult to park where you want to, UNCG does not “run out of spaces,” even during peak demand. Your preference for parking and the choices you make will greatly affect your parking experience at UNCG.
It may be surprising to new students, faculty, and staff: UNCG has more parking availability today than it did a decade ago. If you came to campus in 2005, you would have had to find a space with 96% of UNCG’s capacity utilized. It is much easier to park today than it was in the past.
It’s only through proper parking management and an increase in sustainable options that UNCG has become easier to visit with less parking spaces available. This allows the campus to grow while keeping the cost to students, faculty, and staff as low as possible.
What else can I do to improve my parking experience?
Don’t be afraid to contact the Parking Operations and Campus Access Management office! We’re happy to share our data on peak times and days, space availability, and events that may impact your campus access. We also provide live updates via Twitter and on our website when events may impact your ability to access campus. If you can’t find a space on your own, we are happy to analyze capacity information to help you find a space.The following example shows when students are taking classes during the Fall 2015 semester (blue) and when students are likely to leave campus each day (red) – you will find that this data is a very accurate predictor for gauging parking demand on campus. Mondays and Wednesdays tend to look similar, as do Tuesdays and Thursdays. Friday and weekends are typically low demand environments and parking is readily available.
Remember – we’re here to help you get to campus so you can succeed as a student, faculty member, staff member, researcher, or campus guest.