In-Person Classes Resume, Open Parking Spots Become Scarce


Cars parked in the union on Tuesday, September 1, 2015. (Photo Courtesy of Chronicle Archives)

By Stephanie Hong, News Writer


The Fall 2021 semester at the University of Utah began on Aug. 23, and the campus became rapidly crowded compared to the spring and summer semesters. As a commuter campus, many students drive their cars to school and are struggling with a lack of parking spaces.

“It is so hard to find a spot to park every time I drive to campus,” said U student Rosie Bogle. “Last semester, with COVID-19, it was much easier to find parking stalls with fewer people on campus, but this semester the campus has a much greater number of students than the previous two semesters.”

Additionally, parking lots near main buildings tend to fill up the fastest.

“I park most often by the Student Union Building because it is the easiest way to get around campus,” Bogle said. “The parking problem around the Union seems even more serious because students prefer to park close to the building where they take classes.”

U parking and commuter service is looking for countermeasures for the situation that has changed since last semester.

“We have 500 fewer parking spaces than we did before the pandemic, but the number of students has increased significantly,” said Collin Simmons, associate director of commuter services at the U.

Additionally, U Commuter Services has promoted “Sit-U-ational Telecommunication” for the summer 2021 preparation. Sit-U-ational Telecommuting is a surge telecommuting policy adopted by Utah. This system schedules remote work for employees, which is meant to alleviate traffic and parking problems.

The U campus parking system has over 400 total kiosk parking lots, primarily used by visitors when the campus has special events, and 500 parking meters stalls, which can be paid for by smartphone. Students, faculty and staff can also purchase different types of parking passes to gain access to campus parking.

“After the pandemic ends in a few years, the number of students on campus will increase more and more, and the fundamental way to solve a lack of parking spaces is to create more parking lots,” Simmons said.

However, the U currently does not have enough green space to turn into parking space. Simmons said the only way to increase parking spaces is to build additional garages for student parking.

“Building a garage parking lot takes more than two years from approval to completion of building them, which cannot be a good short-term solution to solve the parking problem we currently have,” Simmons said.

He said that students who live near the campus are highly encouraged to use the campus shuttle system with 37 buses on 14 routes provided by the U and Utah Transit Authority.

“The best option is for students to use mass transit,” Simmons said. “This could be a good choice for a sustainable campus environment. And student tuition fees help pay for UTA transportation services [that students can use] for free.”

Students are also encouraged to use parking lots near south campus, which is located a little farther from the main academic buildings than other parking lots on campus. They can also follow commuter services on Twitter to get the “parking report” for the day.

“Commuter services department is committed to minimizing campus parking problems and trying to communicate with students and employees as much as we can,” Simmons said.

For more information about on-campus parking and other auxiliary services, visit the commuter services department website.


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