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The Mass Media

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Parking Pains

Parking+Pains
Parking Pains

My first day of class a year ago, fall of 2010, I drove to campus in time for my first class at 11AM. It was rainy and cold that day, and I was unprepared for the parking situation that greeted me: there was nothing closer to campus than the rear edge of D lot, right next to Harbor Point. Without an umbrella, I trudged through the rain toward the library, arriving late for my first class

My first day of spring semester 2011 was even more difficult. I hadn’t bought my bus pass yet. It was snowy and cold that day, and my jacket wasn’t warm enough. I was waved over to Bayside parking, nearly a mile away from my class in Wheatley, just missing a shuttle and waiting 15 minutes for the next one. Once again, I was late.

I figured this semester wouldn’t start the same way. I’d already purchased my parking pass at the Parking and Transportation Office in Quinn. My first class was at 9AM and I figured I’d definitely arrive in time to find a parking space. At ten minutes of nine, the South Lot was full and North Lot nearly so. Clearly, I reasoned, the campus has a problem with parking.

I spoke with Steve Martinson, Director of Parking and Transportation, to find out what was what. What I found out surprised me. UMB has about 2,600 parking spaces on the campus, with another 1,300 available at Bayside. While Bayside does get used during the first couple of weeks, parking gets easier as the semester progresses. Add/Drop finishes and some people decide not to stay, others slash their course load, and a few students arrange a carpool with classmates. These factors combine to reduce the strain on the parking system.

For Bayside parking, the shuttle is supposed to run about every 12 minutes, but during peak periods the Parking and Transportation Department will put a second bus on to accommodate demand. Those shuttle buses, by the way, are some of the most comfortable I have ever ridden.

Despite pains the first couple of weeks, my impression is that parking is managed well during these tricky weeks. I know, it can be cold comfort if you’re prowling for a parking space; but they do pay attention in the department and they do try to make sure we can all park. If you can, give yourself a little extra time in case you get waved to Bayside.

However, we are facing a possible mid-semester parking jam coming up, which isn’t common. According to current plans, which are subject to change, Lot A will be partially or fully closed starting mid-October to start construction of a new building. This might not hit me very hard this semester given my early start time, but people arriving for the second class period might face some trouble.

I’ll see you in the parking lots.