By Gabrielle Chevalier
Chattanooga, Tenn. (UTC/The Loop)–The University’s parking availability is not expected to improve in the near future, according to the members of the University Parking Authority.
Shalin Shah, a Chattanooga senior and head of the Parking Authority Committee, said changes are slow to come to fruition, and some officials are not sure there is even a need for additional parking.
“The members of the committee seem very averse to really fundamentally looking at the issue, they don’t understand that we do lose students over parking,” Shah said. “Parking is a problem and a hassle and needs to be fixed now, not later. They seem reluctant to pursue big changes and I wish I could push those through.”
Shah said he did not anticipate how difficult it would be to begin making changes to help fix campus parking.
Different divisions of the University have different expectations, and, if one person is bothered by a change, others are “up in arms” about it, he said.
In addition to the issue of available parking on campus, the parking authority also seems to be losing money, he said.
“I have directed the appeals committee to explore our options and look at our finances,” he said. “Parking seems to be losing money because of extraordinary expenses, and we can’t fix parking if they are losing money.”
Prior to his position with the parking authority, Shah served as the head of the Student Parking Appeals Committee and co-chair of the Parking Rates Committee.
“It has convinced me that this is an incredibly complicated issue with no easy solution,” he said of his time working with parking officials.
The cost for University parking passes has increased each year, according to a recent article by The University Echo.
Currently, prices are:
- $120 per year for general parking
- $276 per year for reserved parking
- $316 per year for 24-hour reserved parking
- $550 per year for south campus parking
University enrollment has increased more than 30 percent in the past six years, however, parking has not matched the growth.
There are currently 5,942 decal spaces to accommodate 7,591 students, Cindee Pulliam, vice chancellor of auxiliary services and property management, said in an interview for The Echo.
Because not all students are on campus at the same time, the number of passes sold is greater than the number of spaces available for the lot, according to the University parking website.
Savannah Langen, a Nashville sophomore, said she is frustrated to hear officials say there may not be a need for additional parking.
“When you have students driving around for 20 or 30 minutes trying to find parking, that’s clearly an issue,” she said. “Students pay for parking. We pay for classes. When one disrupts your ability to focus on the other, there is a serious problem.”
Allison Wade, a Memphis junior, agreed with Langen.
Wade, who lives on Oak Street, said while she no longer has to worry about parking before class, it was a problem which disrupted her schoolwork on multiple occasions.
“There was a time where I was almost late for a big test just because I couldn’t find any place to park in the middle of the day,” she said. “Now I can walk, but where I lived before that just wasn’t an option.”
Wade said she eventually began parking in the meter spots around campus rather than searching for a general parking place.
Where to go