ASNAU holds parking forum, officials talk about spending, improvements
ASNAU held a forum with Parking and Shuttle Services regarding on-campus student parking on Nov. 17.
Erin Stam, manager of Parking and Shuttle Services, said she felt it necessary to hold the forum so students could have a better understanding of the department’s functions.
“Most people are pissed off about parking because they had a bad experience — maybe sometime in the past they’ve had a bad experience with someone in my office,” Stam said. “My whole belief is that you still have to be accountable for following the rules and regulations, but how we convey that message to you and the rationale behind the policies is really important.”
In the future, Mountain Campus Transit (NAU’s shuttle service) is looking to establish a transit spine, which will allow the shuttles to move around campus without being stuck behind cars. Stam said this is one of the reasons there is only one bus route this year.
“All the buses are on one route because … every three minutes, there’s one bus behind the other,” Stam said. “So if it’s full, you just have to wait a couple of minutes; the next one is probably empty because everyone’s trying to squeeze into the first one. But the other reason is that we have [a] transit spine coming next fall; there[’s] a new transit line.”
For the first week of this semester, Parking Services gave out only warnings to students parked in lots that didn’t correspond to the vehicle’s permit, and students parked without a permit. Currently, Parking Services is fining students for all infractions.
Stam used a graph to show where all of the money collected from these infractions goes. Thirty percent goes to paying service personnel, 28 percent goes to debt service, 14 percent goes toward maintaining lots, 11 percent is for equipment and 8 percent is for administration overhead to pay for dealing with the Bursar’s Office and NAUPD.
Stam said in the past, the policies of the department had allowed students to drive from class to class, causing bad traffic flow and parking issues. Parking and Shuttle Services decreased the number of parking permits available so illegal parking would not take up all spaces in the lots.
“In years past, there were particular lots that were all permits all the time, or no permit — it was free for all,” Stam said. “The problem was seniors who have been here for years have seen traffic diminished [due to the new policies]. [Under the old system] you could be sitting in traffic for 20 minutes. Our policies allowed people to get in their vehicles and drive around all day.”
“We’re at a size now where we have sold about 7,000 permits,” Stam said. “We have 8,000 stalls, so anyone who thinks we don’t have enough parking on campus — we actually still have more stalls that we don’t sell at full capacity because, I hate to say, we accommodate people parking illegally.”
If students cannot afford a permit at the beginning of the year, Stam said they will be able to put the charge on their student account and pay for it later. She added that Parking Services will help students with their parking citations but wants them to be held accountable at the same time.
“I don’t want people to think that they can go ahead and get citations because we’ll fix it for them,” Stam said. “We’re still going to hold them accountable, but we’re going to work with them personally.”
When asked by students attending the forum why parking is not free, Stam said there are costs that must be paid associated with maintaining the department.
“When they stop charging me for asphalt, and when my staff stops asking me to pay them, parking can be for free,” Stam said. “Like any other department on campus, we have to run our operation. Obviously, a significant amount goes right back into providing services.’’
Senator Adam Weingart said he would like to have more accessible parking for Greek Life students who commute to Mountain View.
“Speaking as a Greek [Life] student who doesn’t live in Mountain View residence [hall], it’s not only a residence, but it’s also a place where we can have a lot [of] philanthropies and get together,” Weingart said. “We do community service projects, so I was wondering if there’s some way to accommodate us because I know not all Mountain View spaces are full.”
Stam said most people are not parking in Mountain View now but will be once there is snow.
“What we see now is that a lot of people are parking off campus,” Stam said. “But once it starts snowing, people will want to park in Mountain View.”
Parking and Shuttle Services changed the shuttle routes from six last year to just one this year for easier communication among the buses. To make the bus system quicker, Stam said they are supplying more buses.
“We are working as quickly as possible to get more buses out there,” Stam said. “Every other bus will loop to SBS [Social and Behavioral Sciences building] and go back north — it will not go to the dome because our bulkiest ridership [is] between SBS and Cline.”
Senator Christian Walker said he agrees the new bus system is helpful because it assists with his time management.
“I’ve noticed an improvement in the way the buses flow,” Walker said. “I go from south campus to the spot near Mountain View, and usually I take the bus every single day. At this point … it’s helped during class time, especially on south campus.”
In the future, Parking and Shuttle Services wants to have an electronic system running to tell students where shuttles are on campus.