Parking on campus is often a challenge according to students like sophomore Eli Medford (‘21) who has to commute each day to class. Medford described parking on campus as a “hunt for a parking space.” The challenge to find parking persists after UNC Charlotte has spent millions of dollars in the past decade to correct the problem. The University most recently completed the expansion of the Student Union Parking Deck. This expansion project alone provided the University community with almost 700 additional parking spaces to make up for the loss of Parking Lot 19 after it was demolished to build the University Recreation Center. This project cost nearly $14.5 million dollars.

Last spring a group of students sought to resolve the on-campus parking crisis. Computer science students Taylor Atkins, Dillon Brys, Kevin Huynh, Michael Long and John Sorensen designed a parking availability app for their class project intended to help students locate campus parking based on real-time data that Parking and Transportation Services already has access too. The project was completed and functional in May when the code was turned over to Parking and Transportation services in June to polish and launch and revamped by Facilities Information Systems for a production environment.  The University is now wrapping up final testing according to Doug Lape, the Director of Parking and Transportation Services, who is excited to launch the program.

Lape commented “I’m really excited to get these features launched.  These are things that our customers have been asking for and we’re happy to deliver.”  

Lape went on to add that Parking and Transportation Services hopes to launch this new program by the end of September. The mobile-friendly program will also allow customers to see the percentage of spaces available in all campus parking decks, gated and ungated. Another phase of the project will be a pilot test program for parking availability in surface lots, starting with Lots 4A, 5 and 5A. This phase of the project still needs approval.

This program aims to provide students with the real-time data the school already has access to and make parking more efficient for students, staff and visitors to campus. The app should solve problems like overcrowding in certain lots while other lots have available spots.  

Sophomore Eli Medford can’t wait for the new program to launch. Medford said, “I think it will be great for students who commute and need to park quickly near the academic buildings and get to class, rather than have to hunt for parking and be late for class.”

Another Sophomore, James Hooven is also excited for the new program. Hooven said “it’s going to be helpful, and a time saver to avoid going to parking decks that are already full.”

This fall semester more students are utilizing services offered by Parking and Transportation Services like the on-campus bus system, but due to higher demand buses are often over capacity during peak times. The light rail is also operating for the first full school year after opening last spring. These public transportation options and new regulations on parking decks (for instance, South Deck is now only available to students with a resident permit), have helped relieve demand for parking across campus.

The Board of Trustees increased the cost of parking permits this past spring despite already being one of the most expensive in the UNC System. This student-developed program will attempt to ensure that students get the parking they paid for.

 

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Jacob is a former UNC Charlotte SGA Class President and current member of the UNC Charlotte Student Government Organization. He is from Kernersville, NC and majoring in Political Science.

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