By Dana Nasr
With the fall semester right around the corner, many students at the University of Kansas are eager to get back to campus but less than thrilled about finding parking to do so.
For sophomores and upper-classmen, the issues that parking on campus entail are nothing new and are something they have dealt with and adapted to by now.
For incoming freshmen at KU, there is almost an expected learning curve students must endure with on-campus parking before knowing their way around and, more importantly, avoiding getting ticketed by KU Parking.
Many students find parking at KU to be a hassle, with confusion over which lots are off limits or acceptable to park in and how to navigate the closest and most convenient parking according to the location of their classes.
Akshat Gupta, a KU graduate, spent the last four years dealing with KU’s parking situation and found parking to be highly inconvenient for the location of his classes. Since his schedule had classes spread across campus, he found it difficult to get from one class to the next without his car.
Since KU is a walking campus, Gupta would usually park his car in one lot and leave it parked for the remainder of his class day due to the difficulty of finding convenient parking, struggling to get across campus and finding the university bus system to be unreliable and inconvenient at times.
“I think it could definitely be improved in the sense that in the places we do have parking right now, instead of just having rows and rows of parking, just keep on building parking garages,” Gupta said. “You end up having to give yourself 30 minutes of leeway just to get to class on time even if you are driving to campus.”
Students are also encouraged to buy parking permits at the beginning of each academic year starting mid-July in order to decrease their chances of getting ticketed by KU Parking throughout the semester.
According to KU Parking, annual permit prices for off-campus students range from $302 for a Yellow permit and $350 for a Garage Yellow permit. The only difference is that Yellow permits allow students to park in any Yellow zones and Garage Yellow permits are specific to a certain parking garage.
Students have the option of choosing to link their permit to one of three garages at KU: the Allen Fieldhouse Garage, Mississippi St. Garage or the Central District Garage.
These garages also offer parking by the hour through the ParkMobile app or a pay station located in the garage. The price per hour is $2.20, which may be steep for everyday use, but is an alternative offered for many students who don’t want to purchase a permit and may not park on campus for extended periods.
Students living on campus, in residence or scholarship halls, have the option of purchasing permits near their residence, which are not available to off-campus students. However, on-campus students don’t receive any special treatment for permits near academic halls, such as Yellow and Yellow Garage permits.
According to KU Parking, staff and faculty annual permits range from $378-$570, having a tier system depending on an individual’s age and years of service at the university with the Red permit being the lower tier and the Gold permit being the highest.
Permit prices get even steeper if faculty or staff choose to purchase garage permits, which range from $470-$663, with the lowest tier being Garage Red and the highest being Garage Gold.
“I think that currently there is a plenty of parking,” said Mary Olson, KU assistant parking director. “I don’t know if it’s always clear to students.”
Olson suggested that students should plan ahead according to their class schedule and arrive on campus early to give ample time for proper parking.
“If you’re going to park, please pay by the hour or by permit,” Olson said. “If you’re confused, ask, just ask right away if you get a ticket. Don’t wait. Don’t call your mom.”
Olson said not to let parking tickets accumulate.
Comparatively, at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, proximal parking doesn’t seem to be an issue, as most parking lots/ garages are located very close to academic halls, and some garages are even attached to them.
According to UMKC parking office manager Ken Bledsoe, UMKC is currently not a walking campus. This allows students to drive their vehicles across campus and park closer to their academic halls, but there are hopes of making the campus more walker friendly in years to come.
According to UMKC Parking, there are only two permit options: student permits and faculty/staff permits.
Student annual permits range from $270-$338, with the latter permit extending until August of the following year instead of May. There is also the option of metered parking for students which is $1.25 per hour.
For faculty and staff, parking is divided by a monthly cost ranging from $42.19-$62.22, depending on their salary amount.
Despite having convenient locations for parking, some students believe there aren’t enough spaces in the right areas to allow for that convenient parking.
“The parking situation isn’t bad,” said Mena Abohamda, a UMKC graduate who parked on campus every day for class. “I just feel like it should be part of my tuition because sometimes I’m late to class. The lot is always full and there’s nowhere to park so I have to go all the way to metered parking areas.”
There are not enough parking spaces to accommodate all the students that attend UMKC, Abohamda said.
According to Bledsoe, like KU, UMKC Parking is fully self-funded. It receives most of its income from either permit purchases or ticketing, which is what sets it apart from being included in tuition costs.
Bledsoe also explained that there is plenty of parking available for students; it may just be less convenient for students parking farther than they anticipated and is also dependent on the volume of each lot throughout the day.
Bledsoe said any new parking spaces would have to be vertical parking, which would require the addition of entirely new garages with large price tags.
“There is not an easy solution to make things better for us,” Bledsoe said. “As you’ve probably noticed, we’re very landlocked so we don’t have the ability to expand to neighboring properties to add more parking.”