Complaints on social media show students’ frustration with parking
Social media was created for people to speak their mind, and at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, students love to speak their mind about parking.
Top 8 things I dislike about Unl. 1. Parking 2. Parking 3. Parking 4. Parking guy 5. Parking 6. Parking 7. Parking guy 8. Parking
— Jack McVeigh (@JackMcVeigh1) July 15, 2016
Most complaints are about not finding a parking spot near campus when needed.
UNL Parking is so bad, I witnessed 2 guys play Rock Paper Scissors from their cars for a parking spot… #UNLparking
— Brad Bailey (@bradbailey03) August 26, 2015
Students are even making their own videos about parking, complete with a lot of bleeping of words.
While complaints about parking go back more than 40 years to when students started bringing cars to campus in greater numbers, social media gives complaints extra visibility that hasn’t existed before. And, often, frustration can lead to confusion or the wrong idea about how parking on campus works.
Sarah Clark, a junior Studio Art and Advertising and Public Relations double major, commuted to UNL for class last year. Clark had issues finding a place to park on football Saturdays. Clark had a Stadium Drive Commuter permit, which allows her to park in the Stadium Drive garage, but the garage was closed for football patron parking on game days.
“One night, I ended up staying on campus overnight because I was too tired to drive home and the next morning they towed my car,” Clark said. “I think it’s ridiculous I’m not allowed to park in my garage on game days because I feel like if I’m paying several hundred dollars for a parking garage, I feel like I should be able to park there when I need to.”
Justin Lytle, a junior Actuarial Science major, lived in Neihardt Residence Center last year and parked his car near the Devaney Center with a Perimeter permit.
“I don’t use my car too often, so it’s a lot more affordable,” Lytle said. “It’s about a twelve-minute walk, but it’s worth it whenever I need to drive.”
Lytle said he has never had an issue finding a parking spot. “Not a lot of people use perimeter parking because they don’t want to walk too far,” Lytle said.
Lytle thinks there is plenty of parking space on campus, people just need to be willing to walk.
“People want to be as close to their housing or classes as they can,” Lytle said. “When I’m riding with someone else, they’re always trying to find a spot close to where they’re trying to go.”
In a 2014 NewsNetNebraska article, director of UNL Parking and Transit Services Dan Carpenter said students can’t expect to park in the most convenient spot.
“I can honestly say we still have parking availability,” Carpenter said. “It’s just not where … you know, people always want to park the closest, so they drive to the closer lots and then after the peak times, they have to move out.”
Another complaint students have is regarding the cost of permits and how that money is used.
Since 2005-2006, the cost of student parking permits has increased seven times. Carpenter said each of the increases corresponds with a funding plan for the construction of a parking structure or transit expenses.
Lytle said he thinks the prices are reasonable.
“I think a lot of people say the price is too much, but they’re also the same people that are unwilling to change where they are going to park,” Lytle said. “You pay for how little you want to walk.”
Parking permits made up 68 percent of revenue for UNLPTS in 2015.
Parking tickets only accounted for 3 percent of revenue, which goes against what some students think, including this student in 2011.
And as for where that money goes, it is used for more than marshmallow cooking.
I would like to reiterate: UNL Parking is worse than robbery. I swear they just take our money, light it on fire and laugh over s’mores. — Cassie Kernick (@cassiekernick11) August 4, 2016
UNLPTS spent more than $5 million paying bonds in 2015, almost 48 percent of its total expenses. Another $2.28 million went to StarTran for bus service between campuses.
The bonds helped pay for a number of parking lots and enclosures that have sprung up over the years. The image below shows the elimination (in red) and addition (in green) of parking on campus since 1993.
In a 2014 NewsNetNebraska article, Carpenter said using the campus bus system is one of the best solutions to problems with parking.
“That would save us on costs to build parking structures and we’ve already got the system set up, we’re already paying StarTran to operate,” Carpenter said.
While the costs of parking permits have risen multiple times in the last decade, bus passes have stayed the same—$120 for an annual pass or $90 for the academic year.
Carpenter said in a 2014 NewsNetNebraska article that UNLPTS offers another service for students that struggle to find parking. If students are unable to find a spot, they can call the UNLPTS office.
“If you have questions, contact us,” Carpenter said. “We’ll help you find parking. It’s what we’re here to do.”