UT-Austin parking permits don’t guarantee spots

Savana Dunning

For students such as journalism senior Morgan Kilgo, finding a parking spot on campus with her C+ parking permit can sometimes be impossible.

“It’s definitely been difficult,” Kilgo said. “If I come here early in the morning, I have luck. If I come here later, say around 11:30 or 12:00 for my class, it’s pretty much not going to happen … You’ll realize you’re in a line of 10 or so cars that are all trying to park.”

Kilgo is a part of the 86 percent of UT students who live off-campus, according to the Division of Student Affairs. While many of these students live somewhere near campus, many students and faculty commute to campus every day. Some of the cheapest permits for students, C and C+ permits, afford them the most parking options around campus. Yet many feel that finding available surface parking, or non-garage parking, can be difficult.

Blanca Gamez, Parking and Transportation Services assistant director, said students usually prefer parking in the two lots closer to campus rather than in the available C lots across I-35.

“Surface lots are based on a first-come, first-serve basis,” Gamez said. “A lot of students perceive the C lots as only the two lots behind the School of Social Work. Across I-35, we have lots of C parking and Longhorn Lots where students have the ability to park.”

Kilgo lives 30 minutes from campus and drives to school. Her C+ permit allows her to park in these C lots, but Kilgo said these lots beyond I-35 are inconvenient. 

“I don’t want to have to get here three hours before my class to park,” Kilgo said. “I haven’t ventured to the other side of 35, but for me personally, I would just rather be able to park and walk to class easily.”

Parking and Transportation Services also sells more permits than there are spaces available, a strategy that Texas A&M also practices. Gamez said this is to serve as many students as possible.

“Students aren’t going to be there all day, every day,” Gamez said. “Everyone has different schedules, so there should be a lot of turnover.”

The problem could also lie in having a non-lot specific system. A&M sells more permits than spaces, but unlike UT, A&M can guarantee parking to permit holders to a certain extent. Melissa Maraj, A&M transportation communications manager, said this was a result of A&M switching from a system similar to UT’s to one that assigns permits to specific lots.

“We had one commuter lot that was really popular, and instead of going to another lot, they (students) were just queuing the same lot even though there was no space,” Maraj said. “We changed it to a lot specific permit … That’s why we can guarantee a space. We don’t have any complaints from customers about not finding a spot because we control how many permits are assigned to each lot.”