Transportation is a definite concern for UNC students. Whether searching for a parking spot or trying to figure out the bus schedule, many long for a simple solution.
Roughly 3,900 of 14,000 permits are assigned to students, according to the UNC Student Government. Randy Young, information specialist for the UNC Department of Public Safety, added that freshmen usually are not allocated any of these spots. Exceptions are made only for those who are married, have hardships or are military veterans.
“There are always parking spots available for students who are eligible, whether that is in the PR lot or the S11 lot,” Young said. “Students may not always get the spots they want, but there are definitely spots there because we are certainly not at full capacity.”
Money collected from University parking goes to the Department of Public Safety’s budget.
“There is a 300-employee payroll we have to pay. For every parking space you see, there is personnel that have to take care of it, there is maintenance and the creation of space,” Young explained.
There are many who have given up on receiving an on-campus parking permit.
Freshman Kate Matthews parks at a graduate student’s house on Purefoy Road. “It costs about $300 a year, but I do have to ride my bike to get to my car,” she said.
“I feel really fortunate to have a parking spot. I know that there are tons of other freshmen who wish they had their cars on campus.”
Matthews found her parking space from a Craigslist ad posting. Freshman Amy York found her Rosemary Street spot in a similar way. Initially, she did not have a car at school. After several trips home, her parents decided it would be more economically beneficial to find a parking space.
“I visited many spots off campus to see locations and compare prices,” York said. “I chose my spot because the area is well-lit, which is important when I am coming back late.”
There are incentives for students who choose to make use of public transit or bikes.
“There are 50 to 60 different merchants that provide discounts or free gifts for these students,” Young said.
Comparatively, public transit is a more economical option. A parking permit for the year may range anywhere from $239 to $415.
“The bus system is quite reliable, and most of my friends have a car. So I don’t really need one,” reasoned Mackenzie Thomas, a sophomore who chose not to bring her car to Chapel Hill.
Dr. Katie Rose Guest Pryal, a law professor, has taken the Robertson Express Bus to campus since she started her career at UNC in 2007.
Pyral said that the 25-minute ride was timely and relaxing.
“It’s a very peaceful time for me during my day because driving 15-501 is stressful.”
“In principle, I believe we need more public transit between the major regions in our area. Chapel Hill has a fantastic local bus system. More transport between Chapel Hill and Durham, Raleigh, RTP and other regions would be wonderful,” Pryal said.
Bikers are popular on campus and rightfully so. A walk from South Campus to Franklin Street can become quite an ordeal.
“With God’s will, I will have a car next year, but without my bike this year, I would never make it to my job on time,” freshman Erica Edelstein said.
Mary Sisson rides her bike every day from her Chapel Hill home. Instead of taking 15 minutes to get to class, she can make it in four.
When asked about her etiquette toward pedestrians, Sisson admitted she is not the friendliest biker.
“I am most definitely not a nice biker. I take advantage of the fact that I can bike faster than those people who are walking.
“There is really no bus for me to take to get to campus,” explained Sisson. She also lives too close to campus to be eligible for a parking permit.
“My bike comes in handy when I’m crunched for time,” Sisson said.
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