Get ready, because big changes are coming to parking on campus.
As part of the University’s new Five-Year Plan, a plan launched every five years by UNC Transportation and Parking to generate necessary revenue, all vehicles will need a permit to park on campus Monday through Thursday night unless the parking space is in an hourly parking area. The Weeknight Parking Program comes as a change to the current system, which allows free parking at certain commuter lots from 5 p.m. to 7:30 a.m.
Beginning in August 2019, students will pay an extra six dollars as part of the total transportation fee to fund this parking initiative. Upon paying the fee, all students except first-years can obtain a weeknight parking permit. All daytime parking passes will be honored during weeknights. Visitors to campus will be impacted as well, with all visitors required to show a credential to park on campus, apply for a temporary pass or pay an hourly fee.
Not all students are thrilled, especially on a campus where parking can be difficult already.
“When we are paying so much in tuition, we should be able to park our cars on campus if we want,” junior and sociology major Sara McCauley said. “So in general, I think the addition of this rule is kind of absurd.”
In order to understand the details of the Weeknight Parking Program, look no further than the members of the Weeknight Parking Working Group, a group developing the program's implementation. Cheryl Stout is the chairperson for the working group and serves as director for the Department of Transportation and Parking. With a decision that impacts the entire campus community, Stout said she and members of the working group decided on what they believe to be best for all parties involved.
“Representatives felt like there was a lot of access at weeknight, and people parking at night were not contributing to the system,” Stout said.
The Five-Year Plan that encompasses the Weeknight Parking Program does have potential benefits to the campus community. Revenue from the plan will be put toward different transportation features, such as operating the Point-to-Point (P2P) shuttle and a bike share program.
Shayna Hill is the chairperson for the Employee Forum, a group of non-faculty employees built to address the concerns of UNC employees. With daytime parking permit holders paying significant money for only a half day, Hill said the new plan will bring financial fairness to the system.
“We probably do think having some sort of revenue generated in the evening will help balance out the continually rising cost of daytime parking,” Hill said.
Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Christopher Payne said the plan released has been a group effort thought up years in advance. Payne represents Student Affairs in the Weeknight Parking Working Group. He said there has been an ongoing push to reach out for additional feedback from employee groups, faculty and students.
The scope of this parking plan extends to employees as well. Employees in need of nighttime parking will have a variety of options, such as purchasing a weeknight parking permit. The price of the nighttime permit will vary depending on the employee’s salary.
Logan Brackett, manager for the Department of Romance Studies, said he thinks the new parking rules seem strange for both employees and students.
“It seems like a nickel-and-dime sort of approach for fees,” Brackett said. “Students don’t seem like the main beneficiaries here, so it seems odd to charge them.”
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