Parking at the University of Nevada, Reno, can be a time-consuming task, and finding alternative forms of transportation can be costly or take a lot of energy. Even with paying the parking pass permit fee, the walk to class could still take up to 20 minutes if the class is all the way across campus.
Students at UNR have called for improvements to be made to make transportation to campus more affordable and efficient. However, parking costs the university more than $1 million a year.
Michelle Horton, Assistant Director of Parking and Transportation Services, said her department is entirely self-funded from parking permits and citations.
“We spend about $900,000 on asphalt for parking lots and $500,000 for maintenance of the parking structures,” said Horton.
She explained that a new parking structure would cost Parking and Transportation Services a lot of money. The national average spent on building a parking garage is more than $8 million, according to Fixr, a website that estimates the costs of building different structures.
Horton is working towards promoting carpooling, biking, or taking transit to school, and said Parking and Transportation Services is working with ASUN to make parking improvements for students.
For the Fall 2017 semester, parking services has sold 9,600 permit passes. The department is careful not to oversell the passes, and they count vacant spaces in the parking lots every week to ensure there are enough available spaces.
Despite this, many students still stress they cannot find parking spots even with a parking pass.
“There are almost never spots and I’ve been late to so many classes cause I’m rushing from work,” said student Emy Quevedo.
But some students have found ways to overcome this same frustration.
Sarah Bowman, a sophomore, said she drives to school or takes the bus during the week depending on the day. She personally does not have problems with finding a parking spot even with a parking permit because of her early class schedule, but she knows people that will drive around in circles never finding a spot.
Although the parking permits are available, students complain about the price of one for the school year. The annual silver zone pass, which allows students to park in particular parts of the parking garages on campus, costs $400.Rosie Gully stresses the importance of having affordable options for students.
“My suggestion would be to either lower the prices or make it more convenient for students,” Gully said.
There is an affordable option for students that Parking and Transportation services funds—the Silver and Blue Line buses that drive around campus. Students can ride this bus for free if they get on at a stop on campus, and the lines run to the private student housing complexes surrounding the university.
According to the Parking and Transportation Services website, the RTC also offers discounted bus passes for students who live off-campus, but these passes are still costly at $230 a year.
Another affordable option is getting a free parking permit for the Circus Circus parking garage, of which Horton said there are still plenty left. With this permit, you can park on the top two levels of the garage, and either walk or ride the Sierra Spirit Bus towards campus.
As for losing parking spaces to construction sites, Horton says there’s no need to worry, as her department knew this was coming and planned ahead.
Early this summer, 62 spaces were lost to make way for a new fine arts building. However, behind the medical school, there is the recently-zoned Tan Permit Zone with 298 spaces that is meant to counteract the loss of parking spaces to construction.
“Those spaces are always open, no matter the time of day. Students are worried about there not being enough spaces, but there are,” Horton said.
Katie Worrall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.