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Students experience frustration as Parking Services introduces new system

Sept. 13, 2012

By Samah Assad

It has been merely two weeks since a new parking program was implemented at Cleveland State University, and some students are yet to adjust to the sudden shift to designated zone parking. Students have voiced their opposition against a numberof issues, such as having only a small amount of time to purchase green hangtags. The tags were sold out before classes even started.

To mitigate these issues, Parking Services is making an effort to provide alternate options for students such as evening and weekend hangtags. The waiting list for green hangtags that they had been managing, which had been closed for a short period of time, will reopen sometime this week.

Some students on the list will be notified that they may purchase a hangtag.The beginning of Fall semester marked the end of a four-decade long parking system as a new proximity-based tiered priced system took its place permanently.

Instead of purchasing prepaid hangtags in which students have the choice to park in any lot, they may now only buy one of two hangtags that assign them to a designated area for the semester.

The choice is between a $225 green zone hangtag, which allows students to park in core lots and South Garage, and a white hang tag at a less expensive price of $190, which students were able to purchase for farther, perimeter area parking and South Garage.

According to Kathleen Mooney, Parking Services interim director, the change was sparked after displeasure from students unable to find parking spots in past years was evident. Mooney said hangtags were oversold last year with respect to how many available spaces there were in inventory, especially after the 600 spaces were lost to the Langston Apartments project.

“To mitigate for that and have a better chance of not overselling,” Mooney explained, “we’re controlling the sale of hangtags based on ratio of number of hangtags sold to number of parking spaces we have in either green or white areas.”

Mooney also considers the redesign a method to filter out people who do not attend CSU from using the lots and taking up students’ spots. This explains why the option of paying with cash was removed from booths, although the option is still available in certain lots with automated systems such as South Garage.

“We wanted to make sure CSU students, faculty and staff were getting priority and first dibs on those spaces,” Mooney said.

She also added that there has been much more activity and usage of South Garage’s parking spots.

There are about 4,400 total parking spaces on campus, and there is a concern among students that Parking Services oversold hangtags this semester, especially the green ones, as the sale started a month before the beginning of the semester. Mooney stresses that this is not the case. The plan was to first sell a certain number of hangtags (which Parking Services is in the process of collecting data for), then monitor daily usage and manage a waiting list before selling more permits. The waiting list for green prepaid hangtags is currently closed to new names, but students currently on that list are being given the right to purchase green hangtags as space capacity permits. All students on the white prepaid hangtag waiting list have been awarded permission to purchase those hangtags as the lots north of Chester show space available all day during the week.

Hia Mustafa, sophomore biology major, placed herself on the waiting list and deems it unfair that she could have benefitted from a green tag since her classes are mostly in Main Classroom and Rhodes West. Due to the limited availability of the green tags, she was unable to purchase one before classes began. Walking past the central lot daily, she notices a few empty spots that she could have parked in and wishes the pattern didn’t change from last year.

“This new system was definitely a shot in the face,” Mustafa said. “It’s hard when you’re so used to parking in certain spots every day, and then it just gets taken away from you. I want my parking back.”

However, Mooney wants people to think of their parking services as more of a shopping experience instead of trying to park next to buildings closest to classes in the middle of the day.

“This might not be feasible for anybody unless they get here at 9 a.m.,” she said. “We’re asking students to be more expansive in the way they’re thinking.”

According to Mooney, Parking Services is doing everything they can to help promote the RTA, U-Pass, free trolley service and Vikingloop, which provides flexibility to students in times of inclement or bad weather.

She also explains that CSU attempted to contact students during the summer via email and phone to give them a heads up, but notices that many students were still blindsided by the change since the sale of hangtags began a month before classes started. Mooney insisted that the plan was not meant to be thrown on students instead, it was in development for two years before being executed, but CSU had just gotten the OK from The Board of Trustees in April.

“We did try to communicate in all ways available over the summer, but the timing was not ideal,” she said. “The fact that we had to develop changes over the summer...a significant change like this will never be easy.”

In addition to the manner in which Parking Services managed the transition to the new system, students view the price of green hangtags as a burden in difficult economic times. Knowing that she would not be able to purchase a green tag because of its higher cost, junior early childhood education major Jackie Kettle refuses to drive to school and instead takes the rapid to avoid all of the stress that she noticed the new system brings.

“Once I got the email about the new passes, I didn’t even give parking a chance this year,” Kettle said. “I didn’t want to pay and possibly not find a spot every day like other students I’ve seen.”

She also feels that the green tags, which increased $20 from the tags last year, is an inconsiderate price and should be more affordable for students especially at a commuter school.

“These are the most expensive parking passes at universities I’ve looked at,” she insisted. “The system is way too complicated, it doesn’t make sense and it’s not worth the money to me.”

On the contrary, Mooney explained that this method is a consistent trend that other campuses use across the country to manage very limited parking, especially in urban areas where demand will always exceed the supply.

The only way Kettle sees herself parking in the future is if CSU creates more lots to ensure available parking, but Mooney explains that the university does not have the square footage to expand its parking footprint in the future.

On the other side of the spectrum, many green hangtag users find the new system to be beneficial now that it has reduced cars being backed up in the closer lots. Junior biology major Dana Ali sees the change as much more convenient than last year’s system since she purchased a green hangtag.

“I really agree with the new parking tag system it’s really helpful,” Ali said. “I’m not seeing as much chaos to park in the closer lots, and I don’t have to wait for a spot to open up like past semesters.”

Aside from students who are pleased with the changes, Mooney said Parking Services is trying to communicate in all ways available with students, such as through Facebook and Twitter, to keep them updated on parking and available spaces, and also to hear their problems and concerns.

Within 10 days of hearing issues about evening and weekend parking, Parking Services deployed evening and weekend only hangtags that are now for sale.

Evening tags are valid for parking on campus from 5 to 11:59 p.m. every night in all green and white parking locations. Weekend only hangtags provide a single day of parking privileges in the designated green locations during certain hours. All hours and prices can be found on http://www.csuohio.edu/services/parking/.

For the future, Mooney hopes to better communicate with students any further changes in parking by attending forums with students.
Parking Services also hopes to create solutions for possible back up in farther lots by putting access control technology in some facilities that need it, as well as investing in better security such as cameras and gate controls.

She understands the anger students may feel about an emotional subject such as parking, but begs for patience and cooperation as this program is only in its first semester of its first year.

“We are not unaware of this [frustration], and we do have a lot of compassion for the impacts this has on individuals’ lives,” Mooney said. “Moving forward, we anticipate that it will create a better parking program in the long term for the university. This is a product of success.”

For any questions or concerns about CSU’s new parking system, contact Parking Services at parking@csuohio.edu.

Last correction was made on 9/17/12.