Lecture: Johnnie Cochran
The search for space: Parking director sums up tight parking situation, considers all options in plan
The new director for Parking and Transportation Services Patrick J. Kass recently responded to Lo Que Pasa on a wide range of questions and concerns about the campus parking situation.
Kass has more than 12 years in the parking and transportation industry and comes to the UA from the University of Kentucky where he was the associate director of Transportation and Management Systems.
"Parking is a limited commodity on campus and that demand is high.
We are working with the University community to solve problems and also attempting to develop new programs to use the parking we have more efficiently. With the continual construction on the campus and the loss of surface parking, we will be looking at constructing new parking structures. These facilities can cost between $7,000-$10,000 per space and take over a year to construct once designs are completed. Parking structures are long-term projects that will help alleviate the parking shortage. Alternative transportation is a viable alternative that not only saves the individual money, but also does a lot for the environment."
Director, Parking and Transportation
LQP: How would you characterize the campus parking situation: good, adequate, inadequate, bad, improving or other?
Improving. We are currently under construction on a new parking structure and have plans to begin construction on another structure this May. The two garages will each have approximately 1,700 spaces. The Tyndall Ave garage is scheduled to be partially open in August with the remainder open in late November. The Sixth Street garage is scheduled to open in May 2001.
LQP: How many available parking spaces are there this year versus last year?
Last year we had 9,777 permitted parking spaces, while this year we have 9,523 permitted spaces. This count does not reflect special needs parking spaces or visitor spaces. The decrease is due to the loss of surface parking lots for construction projects.
LQP: How many parking permit holders are there? How many are on the waiting list?
As of Dec. 31, 1999, we had 14,064 parking permits active in the system. Our waiting list had 6,760 entries. However, a person can be on more then one list. We allow individuals to select second and third choices for permits due to the variations in the numbers on each list. This way a person may not get their first choice immediately, but they may get their second, which will allow them to park on campus. On Jan. 27, 1,183 permits were released from the wait list.
LQP: How many spaces would the UA actually need to accommodate the demand?
Based on a previous consulting study, The University of Arizona would need approximately 12,000 permit spaces to accommodate the parking demand.
LQP: Which is the most commonly issued permit?
Since we have more Zone 1 spaces then any other permit type, we issue more of these permits and it also has our largest waiting list.
LQP: What is the ratio of Zone 1 spaces to Zone 1 permit holders?
We oversell our Zone 1 permits on a 1 to 1.5 ratio. This ratio has been developed from years of data gathering. The reason for the oversell is that not all permit holders are here at the same time and five days a week. There are students that only come to campus 2-3 times per week and we also have a number of employees that work shifts that vary from the standard 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
LQP: Who decides when to add or eliminate spaces in regard to construction projects? Is there a long-term parking plan?
New construction on campus is a very complex issue. The decision as to where new construction will take place is a coordinated effort of many departments and a committee that reviews site selections. I am a member of the committee, however, with a limited supply of available land to develop our parking lots become prime building sites.
Outside of new construction, we are responsible for adding or eliminating parking spaces on campus. Normally we will not remove parking unless there is a safety issue in a particular area. We will change the permit designation for a particular parking area or convert spaces to special needs spaces (service, disabled, loading zones) so it may appear that spaces are lost, but they have just been reassigned.
LQP: Out of the initial 1,088 parking spaces in the Main Gate garage, how many does the UA have access to use?
There are 957 spaces available for UA usage. The remainder of the spaces are either being used by the Arizona Historical Society, the Marshall Foundation or have been removed for safety and operation reasons.
LQP: How many spaces will the new parking garage under construction on the southwest area of campus have? Will the general campus community have access to all of the spaces or are some spaces reserved for other plans?
The Tyndall Ave parking structure will have approximately 1,700 spaces once it is completed. Because of existing lease agreements when the land was purchased, there will be 15 spaces reserved for the Marshall Foundation and the remaining spaces will be for permit holders and visitors.
LQP: Does the income from garage permit holders cover the debt payment of the structures? Are there plans to increase the cost of garage parking permits? When?
The debt service payments are derived from permit revenues, visitor revenues and some support from our departmental operating budget. The plan is to make the garages self supporting. We currently have two garages that can cover their debt service and operating costs and two that can not. The price for a garage permit will be raised to $400 this fall. This will include the Tyndall Ave. parking garage.
LQP: Do you feel there are enough alternative modes of transportation currently available to UA employees?
I believe there are sufficient alternate modes of transportation currently available. Over $1 million of our budget goes to support transportation alternatives. We currently subsidize up to 60 percent of the cost of a SunTran bus pass. The program is used by more than 1,500 UA employees. We also have more than 9,000 bicycle parking spaces on the campus. Other programs we offer are our off campus park-and-ride lots that have reduced permit prices, scratch-off permits for those individuals using alternate transportation that may need to drive to campus on an occasional basis and an emergency ride home program.
LQP: Can you state how many bus passes P&T subsidizes for employees and at what investment?
We have sold a total of 5,000 bus passes (1,500 employees and 3,500 students) this year at a cost of $350,000 to our department.
LQP: How popular is the CatTran?
The CatTran system transports more than 250,000 riders per year. We do not track specifically who are riders are, but based on the number of students vs. employees, I would say the students use the system more.
LQP: Do you know how many or what percent of the faculty-staff use alternative modes of transportation? i.e. buses, shuttles, walking, bicycles
Part of our department_s charge is conducting a travel reduction survey each year. Based on this year_s survey, 38 percent of the employees stated that they used some form of alternative transportation at least once per week. The individuals at the University along with others in the region that used an alternative transportation method just one day a week saved more than $31.9 million dollars, eliminated over 2.9 million pounds of air pollution, and traveled 71.3 million fewer miles. These are significant numbers and as a department we are continually looking at ways to develop new programs.
LQP: Who sets the parking permit prices, and do you feel the prices are fair?
The price of parking is driven by the costs. We are a non-profit department so all our revenues are used for operations. All our rate increases are proposed by our department and approved by the Parking and Transportation Committee and the University Administration. Since we are an auxiliary department, we receive no general fund support for our operations. We raise the costs for parking only when it is needed, for example, the price of a Zone 1 parking permits has not increased since 1995.
LQP: How do you get to work? And if you drive, why do you drive? Did you have to buy a parking permit? Were you put on a waiting list?
I do drive my vehicle to campus and yes, I do pay the same rate for a parking permit as anyone else. Everyone in the department who wants to park on campus must purchase a parking permit. It is the only fair practice. I was not on a waiting list because the department knew the position would be vacant and held a permit. This is something other departments can do as well.
LQP: What is P&T doing to accommodate visitor parking? i.e. Homecoming, Commencement, Family Weekend, events at Centennial Hall, productions at Theatre Arts, etc. What should we as faculty-staff tell our visitors where to park?
We have a Visitor Programs section in our department that handles all types of events on campus. Last year the University hosted over 1 million visitors. If a department is planning on bringing a group onto campus, they should first contact Visitor Programs to schedule the event and then we will best be able to determine where they will find parking.
LQP: What is the general parking plan for the next few years? What changes should we expect? How many more parking spaces will come and go?
At this point I can say that there will be more parking lost to future construction projects. A major impact may be felt in the parking areas between Speedway and Second Street once construction begins on the University Village project. We are looking at sites for new parking structures to help offset these losses. However, funding will continue to be an issue.
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