UT’s lack of parking spots poses problem

Lucy Melinger, Columnist

Upon looking around campus, it does not take long to realize that there are almost no available parking spots. There’s usually many flustered drivers circling to find a spot.

Parking is a universal issue for most cities, so it makes sense that it’s also an issue for Austin, especially on UT’s campus. Many students that drive to their classes often struggle to find an accessible parking spot near their classes. According to Parking and Transportation Services, there’s around 17,000 parking spaces on campus for more than 70,000 individuals. And with the incoming UT strategic plan, which will take up land with parking lots on it, this scarcity will only get worse. 

English freshman Lindsay Neil experiences accessibility issues with their parking spot for on-campus housing.

“One of my biggest complaints (about) having a car on campus is how far my car is from my dorm. It’s about a 30 minute walk because I live all the way on North Campus, and I’m parked all the way on South Campus,” Neil said. “So it was the best that we could find, but it’s almost a full mile to get to my car which makes it almost not worth it to leave campus a lot of the time.” 

UT should not overlook the importance of on-campus parking for students. Students often live in a wide range of areas outside of campus.

For many students, driving is one of their few options to get to campus. Students live in a variety of places, from Riverside and West Campus to Central Austin, which are not always within walking distance. Additionally, for the many students with evening classes, driving is almost a necessity. West Campus is notorious for alarmingly high crime rates, so walking at night is considered unsafe, and choosing to drive offers a level of protection. 

Parking and Transportation Services should find solutions to compensate for the future loss of parking spots in the planned expansion, such as creating more parking spots in other areas close to popular campus buildings. For instance, a parking area near popular campus buildings like the University Teaching Center, Jester Center and Welch Hall would be beneficial.

Blanca Gamez, associate director of Parking and Transportation Services, addressed the issue in an emailed statement. 

“We understand that the location of the University in a densely populated city and the continued and necessary growth of campus can make parking challenging for the campus community; however, (Parking and Transportation Services) and University partners continue to take steps to help ensure the availability of parking of students, faculty and staff.” Gamez said. “The East Campus Garage is located in an area where new construction projects are planned and loss of surface parking is expected. East Campus Garage parking will help ensure parking spaces remain available in that area.” 

However, East Campus Garage is located by the football field and not actually by the majority of class buildings. Rather, the garage is a 20 to 30 minute walk from dorms and class buildings in Central Campus. This garage already exists and has yet to solve the issues voiced by students who park on campus.

Parking is a necessity for many students, and its accessibility should be prioritized in this expansion. UT needs to expand parking to counteract the elimination of spots that will likely result from expansion. 

Melinger is a radio-television-film sophomore from Highland Park, Illinois.