‘Once they get there, they’re hanging on for dear life’: Students struggle with limited garage permits

Denise Emerson

Some students stress over being number one on a waitlist for a class, but others stress about being number 546 on a waitlist for a garage permit.

For students who live far from campus or have to drive to a job, a garage parking permit can be a necessity. Besides the high prices for S and R permits, getting the permit they want poses an additional hurdle. S permits are for commuter students, while R permits are for on-campus residents.

Health and society junior Michelle Juarez parked in the garages on days she couldn’t bike the three miles to campus from her apartment. She estimated she spent hundreds in daily garage rates. Juarez eventually decided to buy an S permit for East Campus Garage (ECG), which is across Interstate 35, for her second year at UT and walks to class from there.

“Sometimes when it’s really cold or hot, or you’re running late to class, you still have to walk a mile to get there — it’s kind of rough,” Juarez said.

Bobby Stone, director of parking and transportation services, said Parking and Transportation Services has to budget the distribution of passes because the garages are self-funded. Faculty receive the majority of passes at 5,549 this year, more than double the 2,125 S permits sold. R permits were allotted 1,312 spaces this year.

PTS receives many student emails begging for spots in a better garage, Stone said.

“We see lots of people making pleas for a space,” Stone said. “Some of these are heart-rendering stories in terms of why they need to be wherever, but we want to treat all the students equally.”

To make the process less stressful for students, PTS implemented a waitlist lottery system for S permits in 2017. Sales for student passes start with renewals and transfer requests, which get priority over the
waitlist lottery. After the waitlist awards, open sales start for the remaining garages. However, some garages fill up within the renewal and transfer request period, Stone said.

Students can remain on waitlists after permits are awarded, but the chances of a spot opening are rare, Stone said.

“Once they get there, they’re hanging on for dear life,” Stone said.

Anthropology sophomore Abigail Thacher said she decided not to try the lottery waitlist and bought an R permit during open sales in the Manor Garage.

Thacher said she bought that particular permit because it was cheap and available, but she didn’t consider some of the consequences.

“A major complication is that it’s a long walk,” Thacher said. “I would be walking in the dark by Waller Creek.”

Thacher said she would have done more research and tried to get into a more expensive garage in hindsight.

Juarez said she also experienced safety concerns. One night she walked from the Perry-Castañeda Library across the highway to the East Campus Garage at 2 a.m., she said.

Stone said PTS strives to open more garages as demand rises, but conveniently located garages will always be filled.

For many students, they have to wait multiple semesters until they are lucky enough to win a spot in their dream garage.