A metered parking lot next to Brady Commons was packed with cars Tuesday afternoon — as usual. Yet students used to the past year’s parking regulations were in for an unpleasant surprise.
MU sophomore Adrienne Ford, struggling to find one of the last spaces in the lot, was dismayed to discover that the university has changed the lot’s meter enforcement hours from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. to 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“I think it stinks,” Ford said. She worried about having to go find somewhere free to park when she goes to the nearby Student Recreational Center in the evenings.
Ford is not the only student complaining.
Jim Joy, director of MU’s parking and transportation services, said he has received some complaints from students since the change took effect in July. He suggested that students park farther away and walk more.
“I find it strange that they would desire to park closer in order to exercise,” he said, adding that drivers visiting the recreational center could use the Turner, Conley or University Avenue garages — all a five to 10 minutes walk away.
Aside from the 142 spaces near Brady Commons, the policy affects another smaller parking lot next to the Hitt Street Garage.
Total parking spaces affected under the change added up to 200.
“It’s not a large number,” Joy said. “I don’t know what all the fuss is about.” MU manages 23,000 parking spaces that accommodate as many as 35,000 cars a day.
The Committee of Campus Parking and Transportation decided in January on the change after months of debate, Joy said. He attributed the tightened meter policy to parking garages near the two parking lots. Both Virginia Garage near Brady Commons and Hitt Street Garage have 24-hour enforcement.
School administrators found it unfair for people to enjoy free parking in the lots while others using the garages have to pay the meters.
The new regulations will also give drivers incentive to move their cars out of the lot instead of parking there for long hours during nights and weekends, Joy said. Students dissatisfied with the new meters can seek to change the policy through proposals to the standing committee on parking and transportation, he said.