UW parking study shows allocation of spaces is real problem

By Jordan Achs

Laramie Boomerang

Via Wyoming News Exchange

LARAMIEResults from University of Wyoming’s Parking and Transportation Study show the parking issue that seems to have plagued the campus for decades is not centered around lack of spaces, but rather the imbalance in demand for them. The preliminary recommendation is not building a parking garage but restructuring the permit system to make better use of current parking availability on campus.

David Lieb, national director of Higher Ed Mobility Planning with Walker Consultants, presented compiled data and survey results from its UW Parking and Transportation Study in a public meeting Wednesday at the UW Conference Center, a follow-up to a November public forum about the issue.

Lieb said the group’s preliminary recommendations include not creating a parking garage, but instead creating tiered parking permits, with the most expensive spaces being close to campus and the least expensive being farther away with access to campus via public transit.

“Overall, the supply is adequate,” Lieb said. “If the campus loses 500 or even 1,000 spaces, that supply, when taken in aggregate — as a whole, I understand there’s distances involved — is going to remain adequate for the 10-year window we were asked to look at based on growth projections of the university.”

The group compiled its recommendations after studying parking space availability around campus, including at four “typical peak” times, in the morning and afternoon on a Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. proved to the busiest, with 56 percent observed occupancy, Lieb said.

During the peak times, Lieb said there were as many as 3,000 empty parking spaces around campus.

Lieb added the residential and faculty parking areas closest to campus were the busiest, with 99 percent and 89 percent occupancy, respectively. The data they collected while visiting campus showed the closer to campus, the more occupied the parking lot — especially in residential permits areas, since the permits were oversold this year, Lieb said.

Despite the thousands of spaces left available, results from the consultants’ campus-wide survey conducted in the fall — which had a 28 percent response rate — showed 61 percent of surveyed undergraduates and 30-40 percent of surveyed faculty have experienced a problem finding a parking space at least once a week or more.

“This is very much a perception issue because there are between 2,000 and 3,000 open somewhere on campus, just not where people want them,” Lieb said.

The biggest take away from the data, Lieb said, is 86 percent of the survey respondents are scared they will not find another parking space if they decide to leave between classes. As more people leave their cars camped in parking spaces all day, Lieb said the problem of available parking spaces becomes compounded.

Lieb added compared to other universities, UW’s parking is not as expensive, but people perceive it is because they can’t find a space. The tiered parking prices, he said, would help create reliable, available spaces and help students and faculty feel they are getting what they paid for.

This problem of cars camping in parking spaces can also be an issue for the residential streets around the university. Although Lieb said the group did not include non-university parking in its study, the hope is by making some changes within campus, the parking in the neighborhoods around UW can also improve.

Members of the public offered input, including adding more remote parking lots and having the university help enforce residential parking permits in the neighborhoods around the university to alleviate the residents who have issues parking there.

“That’s always been a real conundrum for the city,” Mayor Joe Shumway said at the meeting. “We don’t know how to deal with it, but somehow if we could take pressure off of the residents and put pressure on the university to find ample parking for [students], that would solve a lot of the problems for the city.