COLUMBIA — A reduction in the number of available student permits for MU parking facilities in the core of campus means many students with cars will be out of luck.
MU reduced the number of core campus permits from 3,025 to 2,625, said MU spokeswoman Liz McCune. Officials said they want to reduce congestion on campus and the environmental effects triggered by more student vehicles.
Officials hope to encourage more carpooling, bike commuting and use of public transportation, Director of Parking and Transportation Mike Sokoff said in an email.
MU students took to Twitter and Facebook Monday to express their frustrations with changes to the availability of parking permits.
Mizzou is under-enrolled but seniors still can't get decent parking spots?! 😩— Tori Schafer (@ToriMSchafer) July 31, 2017
Permits in University Avenue and Hitt Street garages both sold out before 9 a.m. Monday, according to a tweet from the Office of Parking and Transportation.
No, those two structures did sell out with the Grad and Professional students.— Mizzou P&TS (@MizzouPTS) July 31, 2017
The change in parking management comes after a review of the university's existing parking system by a private company called NuPark, said MU Operations Communications Manager Karlan Seville. Discussions between the consultant and the Campus Parking and Transportation Standing Committee during the previous academic year led to the changes.
The new system is confronting students as they return for the fall semester, which begins Aug. 21. Changes are also being made to citations, meter rates for students and visitors, shuttle routes and a new system for policing parking in MU's numerous garages.
"We had a very antiquated system," Seville said. Before the changes, MU parking officials had a small paper card for each permit holder stored in a file cabinet, Seville said. She said the NuPark representative could not remember seeing any other university with a system so antiquated.
The number of permits — or lack thereof — was one of the frustrations voiced on social media by MU students. Fewer passes were sold this year as part of the parking management changes, McCune said.
“Previously, garages were oversold, which means at times, there were permit holders who could not find a parking space,” McCune said. “Our new system eliminates this problem but results in fewer passes being available.”
MU has 23,298 parking spaces in seven garages and 80 parking lots. This year, spaces available to students consisted of 2,000 in core-campus garages and 625 on core-campus surface lots. Another 2,375 spaces in perimeter lots are also available. Officials define "core campus" as the area bounded by Providence Road, College Avenue, Stadium Boulevard and Elm Street.
The system was used for the first time during the summer, when 2,875 permits were sold.
Last week 2,200 permits were sold to graduate students; on Monday, 1,100 were sold to seniors, McCune said.
Students will still be able to purchase hourly passes for garages but they will no longer place a receipt on the dashboard. Instead, students will use a kiosk and input their license plate number, desired amount of time and payment. The virtual permit is then issued and will be recognized by license plate readers on top of parking enforcement vehicles.
The digital upgrade will make it easier to avoid getting a citation in the first place, Seville said.
Using a new mobile app called Whoosh!, hourly parkers can receive notifications that their time is about to expire and add payment to avoid a ticket.
"You can sit in class and add additional time to your meter," she said.
In addition to being easier to pay, the rates for all meters on campus will be universally changed.
"Every meter on campus will be $1 an hour from now on," Seville said.
The price of temporary permits has also increased. A daily permit was previously $4 and is now $5; a weekly pass was $12 and is now $15; and a monthly pass was $21 and is now $25.
Violators will no longer find an orange envelope under a windshield wiper. They will now receive an email — complete with a photo of their vehicle — and a description of the violation and the fine amount. The fine can be paid through an online portal called Tiger Park, accessible through a link in the emailed ticket.
The parking structure system will also see a complete overhaul. The garages will now be split into different levels. Students will mostly be restricted to parking on the fourth, fifth and sixth floors, Seville said. The uncovered top floors spots will actually drop in price under the new system.
"The parking consultant suggested that we charge surface lot prices for the top of garages because it is not a covered space," Seville said. "Those rates have gone down if you only park on the top."
Parking permit costs remain the same for students, faculty and staff. Students pay $144 for a surface lot and $168 for a garage. Faculty and staff members pay $216 for a surface lot space and $252 for a garage space. Prices are for the academic year.
Students who need to park in garages at odd hours now have to purchase one of three special permits, Seville said. Students who want to park between 1 and 8:30 a.m. will need an A.M. permit. Those who need late night parking between 5 p.m. and 1 a.m. must buy a P.M. permit. Those who want to park their car in a university garage overnight will need to buy an evening permit.
The A.M. and P.M. permits are for those who work late at night or early in the morning. There is no extra cost, but work hours will be verified before they are distributed. This verification will be more strictly enforced for the P.M. permits.
The old system of not enforcing parking in the garages after 5 p.m. is over.
"If you do not have a permit, you cannot park overnight in the garages," Seville said.
Campus surface lots will not escape changes. Because of low ridership, Seville said the shuttle route to Mizzou North will be eliminated. This cut has allowed MU parking to add another shuttle on the more heavily traveled SG4 line that serves Hearnes Center lots, she said.
MU is also paying NuPark $80,000 a year to operate the new Tiger Parking portal and maintain the license plate reader equipment, Sokoff said.
No seat at the table
A spot for student representation was available on the committee but went unfilled, keeping a student voice from being part of the discussion, said Missouri Student Association President Nathan Willet.
"That’s not uncommon,” he said. "Traditionally MSA has left a lot of standing committees unfilled."
While Willett is frustrated with the way MU is handling the current parking situation, he also recognizes that it does fall within the responsibility of student government as well.
"They could definitely be handled better," he said. "But it all goes back to being proactive in filling those spots instead of reactive to the policies."
Supervising editor is Mike Jenner.